Cedar Valley gets a ‘Taste of Culture’

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Campus Life Editor | [email protected]

Rod Library was teeming with UNI students, faculty and Cedar Valley community members at the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) “Taste of Culture” event on Monday, Nov. 11.

“It’s not what I expected at all,” said Alexa Lloyd, a junior leisure, youth and human services major.

The event featured tables from around 23 countries according to Isabela Varela, director of ISSO. At each table, students from their respective nations had their traditional culture on display through food, clothing and various other artifacts.

At the Japan table, there was traditional artwork and traditional clothing available to be worn by attendees.

“I’m studying international cultures in my country,” said Yuri Murata, an international student from Osaka, Japan in her first semester at UNI. “I want to re-learn Japanese culture myself.”

Murata said her favorite items on display were the Japanese artwork.

“They’re very beautiful,” Murata said.

Students got a stamp in their “passports” for each country they visited, which gave them a chance to win a prize. They were also able to sample food and performances from different cultures.

“I really like whoever put noodles and potatoes together,” said freshman deciding major Riley Elenz, regarding pierogies, a dumpling filled with mashed potatoes originating from Europe.

Event coordinators made an effort to have all the food come from a different continent, according to Varela. They had originally ordered enough food for 300 people, but ran out halfway through the event, which ran from 4 to 6 p.m.

As they ate their food, attendees also enjoyed cultural showcases. These included a bagpipes performance as well as a set by UNI’s International Dance Theatre (IDT) Dance Company covering folk dances from Romania, Mexico, Israel and other countries.

In the final hour of the event, there was a ukulele lesson. Students were given ukuleles to practice and soon were playing Top 40 hits together, such as Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).”

“I’m really impressed people are listening, asking good questions and are interested in the countries students are coming from,” Varela said.

The Columbia table chose to feature Gabriel Garcia Márquez, a 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient. His most famous work in Columbia, “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” was on their table surrounded by yellow butterflies.

“It’s important to highlight: all the butterflies represent magical realism,” said Claudia Jimenez, a graduate assistant in the languages and literatures department who was co-running the Columbia table.

There were bonus tables representing Midwest culture and one specifically for Iowa culture, featuring the popular expression “ope” in its presentation.

For Lloyd, the best parts of the event were the food and talking to the students manning each country’s table.

“The purpose is to learn about the culture and international students,” Varela said. “Just to bring the community together.”