Ouachita Baptist University’s 2012 International Food Festival, hosted by the International Club and the Daniel and Betty Jo Grant Center for International Education, will be held on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Walker Conference Center. Tickets cost $5 each and may be purchased at the door.
The festival is an opportunity “to let our community and campus know who our international students are and a bit about their culture and, in particular, the food that they eat,” said Sharon Cosh, a staff coordinator for the event and coordinator of OBU’s English as a Second Language Program. René Zimny, assistant director of the Grant Center and coordinator for the festival, added that the event offers participants a “hands-on feel for other cultures.”
“I think very often if you’ve not had any experience with international things or not studied abroad and don’t know how it is to be a minority, you tend to skirt around people who are different,” Cosh said. “We hope this will be a chance for our community to get to know and appreciate the interesting, intelligent and diverse group of internationals we have on our campus.”
Kelsey Frink, a sophomore education major from Marion, Mass., and member of the International Club agreed, saying, “I feel a lot more culturally intelligent after meeting these kids who all have different educational backgrounds.”
The International Food Festival was once a segment of Christian Focus Week, but evolved into a separate entity about five years ago and has been growing ever since. The Grant Center estimates that more than 500 people attended the festival last year.
The theme for this year’s event is “The Marketplace.” As the name suggests, the look and feel of the festival will be reminiscent of a marketplace, complete with vending stalls offering up food from nearly every continent. In the hallways of Walker, stalls featuring handmade crafts and jewelry made by women from all over the world will be available for purchase. The festival has partnered with OneMaker, Woman’s Missionary Union WorldCrafts and OBU’s SIFE chapter to benefit individuals and families in poverty around the world.
In addition to food and crafts, the festival will feature culturally diverse entertainment. Several international students will perform by playing the piano, singing and dancing. The primary entertainment for the evening is the Lyon College Pipe Band, which will also perform in Ouachita’s weekly chapel program that morning.
The event is coordinated by a committee of students and staff members from the Grant Center and International Club. “We are in charge of finding the cooks, the volunteers for the event, lighting and sound, decorating and cleaning” said Michelle Perez, a junior political science and business double major from Venezuela, who is on the planning committee for the festival.
For more information about the festival, contact the Grant Center at (870) 245-5197.
By Sydney Phillips