Cultures Come Together in the International Food Festival

Many different cultures came together in one place to share their culture with many people through food, games, and more!

Jona Padua, Staff Writer

All Country Group Photo

Ten different cultures came together to share authentic food and activities at the International Food Festival. Here, many people were able to see traditional outfits and learn more about different cultures from people who grew up in the culture. At the off-campus festival, participants were able to experience the unification of different backgrounds after a long time of social isolation.

On March 27, the World Mission Society Church of God hosted the International Food Festival, where the members of different backgrounds were able to share their culture with numerous people. People from 10 countries participated in the festival. The nations represented were Greece, Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Belize, Jamaica, China, Philippines and Nepal. 

Chinese Wear

Each of the different countries had a leader who organized what traditional clothing they would wear, what traditional music they would play, what souvenirs and props from their country they should decorate their table with, what activity to prepare from that culture as well as food to make for over 100 participants. For the event, countries had to make at least one savory dish and one sweet dish, with an optional drink as well.

Not only was it a cultural event, but it was also a competition between countries. At each table, there was a QR code that the participants could scan to vote for which country had the best attire, best food, best activity and best music.

Belize Bread Pudding

There were two sections where the event was set up. One area was for the food, where everyone got to try a sample of the different authentic foods each of the countries made. The other area was designated for the activities to play, ranging from board games to traditional dances. 

In the food area, the tables were decorated with all kinds of materials and samples laid out for all of the guests to try. In one section you would have Greece where you could try gyros, across the room would be Belize with bread pudding, or horchata from Mexico. Once you’ve tried those, you could go around again to the countries you didn’t get to the first time, like trying jollof rice from Nigeria, or Momo from Nepal. 

Tinikling Dance

There was also the activities section. Here, you could make DIY lanterns with a member from Vietnam, sit down and try Chinese calligraphy, play marbles with Jamaica, or try other traditional board games. If you’d rather be up and moving around, there was a traditional Tinikling dance from the Philippines, where guests would have to jump in and out of bamboo sticks on beat, or play the Korean Ddakji game, where you have to throw down paper to flip the one on the ground to win.

There was a lot of preparation for the event to take place, many of the country leaders were happy to see how everything played out. 

Ru Jia handing out authentic Chinese food

“It was a miracle for me,” said Ru Jia, the team leader for China. “I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I never made Kung Pao chicken or egg tarts before, and then now I had to make over 100 servings of it. I was really nervous because Chinese food is really popular, and I had to make mine authentic, and I wanted to make it right. But once the day came and guests tried it, they even came back asking if I’d open a restaurant. It made me realize if we have a will we can do everything.”

It wasn’t only the food preparation or being able to wear traditional outfits, but the feeling of being united with one another and that feeling of family.  Adults, grandparents and children all came together to experience the festival.

“It felt as though I went back to my younger self in my home country,” said Jaime Jang, the team leader for Korea. “Preparing everything for Korea just felt so nostalgic, and seeing everyone so happy made me feel so comforted. It didn’t matter what their age was, but they were trying all the games, eating, and it felt like I was home, really. I just thought the result was really beautiful.”

Both Lucy Toledo, the team leader of Mexico, and Chris Smith, the team leader for Greece, expressed how they were so happy they could get their moms involved in preparing for their tables.

Lucy Toledo preparing authentic Mexican food

Toledo said, “My mom really prepared everything so happily despite the fact she has cancer. I was so moved, especially when guests complimented my table.”

Smith said, “I was able to see my mom light up a little bit. Seeing her excited to come to the event was a really big deal for me.”

It was the most exciting when it came to announcing the winners of the festival, to see which countries  won what awards. There were four different categories, however one country, Philippines, was voted as the winner for each of the four categories. 

Joel Padua, the team leader for the Philippines said, “I didn’t expect it! Everyone worked so hard on each of their tables, it would have been cool to see other countries win. But, it was a great time sharing my culture with many people who enjoyed it.”

Even one of the guests, Chyna Wells, expressed how much she liked the Filipino food, “It was great. The Filipino food was awesome. The efforts of the Church of God members were immaculate.”

It showed that although they all had to take time to prepare everything for this festival, it brought about a happy result in the end, another guest named Mia Woltz saying, “It was wonderful seeing all the different foods and cultures! I got to be with family and friends and had a great time.”