Last Friday students visited a house about two blocks from MSUM to get a taste of Nepal.
Students Internationally Together hosted a meal of free Nepali food. The house was filled with over 80 people.
While students were waiting to eat, people had the opportunity to meet some students from around the world and hear their stories.
Before dinner, an international student from Nepal shared a part of her culture. She explained the meaning behind the vermillion dot many Nepali people wear on their foreheads. She then gave everyone a chance to experience this part of her culture by putting a dot on their foreheads if they wanted to.
Students lined up and filed through the crowded kitchen, getting plates of Nepali food. Talyne Ngamansou, 25, is a senior majoring in health services administration. She enjoyed the Nepali chicken dish and learning how to use the cotton candy machine provided by one of the attendees.
After the meal, a group of people gathered in the kitchen and started to dance to music, some of which sounded Nepali. Students of many different countries enjoyed a good mix of music, from less popular songs to the all-too-familiar “Despacito.”
Sophia Friesen, one of the leaders of Students Internationally Together, is a senior majoring in elementary education. She said the organization has been around for about 10 years and this is its third year hosting an international meal.
For each meal, international students volunteer to cook food from their culture, and the leadership team helps them cook and set up.
“This year we’re adding more of a cultural aspect and whatever that may be, we leave it up to the students of that culture,” Friesen said. “With Nepali they did tikka which is a Hindu blessing [that you] put on your forehead. It’s not just sharing the food of your culture … it’s more of an educational experience as well.”
The heart behind the meal is to create a space for international students to meet other international students and American students, according to Friesen.
“We just want to bring a more people-centered friendly community to MSUM. Through food is a great way of doing that,” Friesen said.
She gave some tips for getting to know international students and learning about their cultures. Hospitality and asking questions about their cultures are important parts of helping international students feel welcome.
She gave some examples of topics to ask about:
- Holidays in their culture
- The meaning of their flag
- Education in their country
- Their families
“Just like having those natural conversations, they’re people we share so much in common (with). We’re all human beings and just grew up in different places,” Friesen said.
Students Internationally Together gave students an opportunity to meet people from other nations, eat cultural foods and have a good time.