Planned by Multicultural and International Student Services, International Education Week Sept. 12-16 brought a host of educational (and delicious) events to Eastern Mennonite University. (Photos by Joaquin Sosa)

Tres leches cake and cross-cultural theme wins big at annual International Education Week food fest

International Education Week’s annual incarnation, planned by Multicultural and International Student Services, brought a host of educational and indeed, delicious, events to Eastern Mennonite University Sept. 12-16. With the theme of cross-cultural education, organizers riffed on one of the university’s distinctive academic programs. However, with a multicultural campus community, it wasn’t difficult to motivate people to meet new people, eat tasty foods from the United States and around the world, and worship together.

Events included a team trivia competition, services to help expedite acquiring or renewing a passport, a cross-cultural learning fair that showcased future trips, and an evening discussion titled “Beyond Hello: How to Become an Hospitable Campus.”

This last event was facilitated Diana Tovar, a graduate student from Colombia who also works as alumni network coordinator for the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and her classmate, Fulbright Scholar Myriam Aziz, from Lebanon. Participants shared experiences of being welcomed or not welcomed on campus and then discussed ways that EMU could be a more welcoming and inclusive place.

“After listening to participants’ stories and sharing our feelings, some very innovative ideas were proposed,” Tovar said, adding that the suggestions will be passed on to student services.

National flags graced Thomas Plaza during the Friday evening Food Fest.

The most popular event of the week is the annual International Food Fest on Friday night. Twenty-nine entries graced the tables in Thomas Plaza at the hotly contested competition. For a small fee, campus community members could enjoy small selections, then vote for their favorite.

Food ranged from sweet and sour spare ribs to gong bao chicken, fried tomatoes with eggs to special Iraqi dishes, as well as favorites like quesadillas, provided by Latino Student Alliance members, and arepas con queso y hogao, corn cakes topped with cheese and Colombian creole sauce, provided by Tovar, Edith Johanna Muñoz and Andrea Moya. Alumnus Carissa Luginbill tapped into her cross-cultural experiences, which included assisting Professor Jerry Holsopple on the summer cross-cultural to Eastern Europe: she prepared kepta duona, strips of fried rye bread with a dipping sauce that are popular appetizers in Lithuania.

For a small fee, tasters enjoyed around 30 dishes and voted on their favorite.

“This event is a great way for students, staff and professors from our many different academic programs to mingle,” said Susannah Lepley, director of Multicultural and International Student Services.

Among those participating were undergraduates in Global Connections, a first-year class for undergraduate international students, and several students in EMU’s Intensive English Program.

Professors also joined students for the event. Visiting scholars from China cooked for a crowd, as did Fulbright Scholar Dr. Shafa Almirzanah, of Indonesia, and Professor Marti Eads, who brought pig-pickin’ cake, a traditional dessert from her native North Carolina (named for the event to which it was brought: barbeques).

Pastel de tres leches, a sponge cake soaked with three kinds of milk— whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk — was the winning entry, provided by Georgina Ndoka, Kevin Sungu, Paul Kayembe and Valeria Hernandez Bustillo. They took home $60 for their culinary efforts.

International Food Festival