Saint Leo University can be described as a melting pot of cultures. On Nov. 15, the Student Activities Building and Student Community Center Loggias beamed with laughter and smiles as numerous students, staff and faculty came to appreciate samples of delicious foods from all around the world at International Food Night.
The Intercultural Students’ Association (ISA) of Saint Leo University hosts International Food Night each year, which grandstands a wide range of food from all around the globe.
The Intercultural Students’ Association serves as a medium to break down cultural barriers, as well as a particular cultural stereotype. This annual event familiarizes students and employees of the cultural diversity present here on campus.
A week before the event, students were emailed and given the opportunity to volunteer to cook dishes indigenous to their country to be displayed at International Food Night. When students who prepared their national dishes were questioned as to what they liked the most about this event, the same answer was recapitulated: “It gives us International students a chance to show our background and how diverse each of our cultures is.”
“This is the 17th year for International Food Night, and I think it was a success,” said ISA president Katriel Grant-Hope. “I am very proud of ISA as we are small but mighty, and we put on the largest event on campus.”
Grant-Hope went on to add that there were many changes made to this year’s event.
“Diversity was at an all-time high in both our food and entertainment,” said Grant-Hope. “Flamenco Dancing and Guitar Playing by Victor Moreno and Ester Suarez-Moreno, Didgeridoo Down Under: Australian Music, Education, Entertainment, Impulse Caribbean Band, Grupo Folklorico Mexicano Mahetzy Mexican Dance Troupe and Tiky Tiky Tak Greek Band.”
The various foods featured included Indonesian Telur Pindane and Masi Gureng, Philippines Buku salad, Jamaican oxtail and fish stew, Cuban empanadas, Trinidadian curry chicken, Puerto Rican Cielito Lindo and Ensalada de Coditos. To accompany these dishes were a variety of cold beverages such as lemonade, Malta and cola Champagne.
Danielle Meikle, a junior majoring in Biomedical and Health Sciences, was one of the many persons who were enthusiastic about the event.
“I am from Jamaica, and I wanted to introduce the Saint Leo University community to Jamaican cuisine, as it is not featured in the cafeteria,” said Meikle. “Additionally, it was a chance to enjoy food from home while being away which is always a great opportunity.”
Meikle is a regular International Food Night attendee. This year she prepared a special Jamaican dish.
“This is my third year attending this event, and I prepared oxtail stew and fish soup,” explained Meikle. “I have volunteered three years and cooked two years.”
When asked if the event improved each year, Meikle stated that “There have been improvements each year, as there are more people and different food and music. The countries featured just keeps expanding.”
Grant-Hope was quite enthusiastic about the future of ISA as she has plans in place for the growth and development of the club.
“This year we have increased the number of events,” Grant-Hope said. “Typically, we do Regional Spotlight, Feast for the World, and A Night on Love Lane. This year we’ve also organized a Disaster Drive for the international countries affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Mexican Earthquakes. We also added Regional Spotlight to the fall semester which was a success. I hope our club continues to grow and build.”
Grant-Hope also wants to encourage more students and faculty to join in on more events like International Food Night. She ended the successful evening with some special words of encouragement and thanks, in hopes of inspiring students to carry out the ISA mission.
“Participate! The mission of our club is to promote and educate the campus on various cultures whether it be age, sex, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual preference, culture or disability. That’s everyone,” concluded Grant-Hope. “Join our organization, educate our campus about a culture you would like us to know more about. Thank you all for your support, and we look forward to bigger and better things next year.”