Friday evening Grand Rapids Community College hosted its 14th annual Global Experience Festival featuring dishes from different cultures and performances from students on the GRCC campus.
The event was put on by the International Student Organization and the Hispanic Student Organization to promote awareness of other cultures as well as provide a fun and inexpensive way for students from all over West Michigan to experience different foods and traditions from around the world right in their own backyard.
“Sometimes in West Michigan, even though we have a lot of diversity, we get stuck in our bubbles,” said Katherine Hughes, ISO advisor. Hughes went on to say that not only were GRCC student’s performing in the event, they were the ones who contributed in the planning process.
“Most of this is done by students,” Hughes said.
Students participating in the ISO and HSO clubs had been planning this event for several months in advance, which involved visiting other global festivals that were held by other colleges in the area. By this way they were able to understand what did and didn’t work, in order to make their own event the best success that it could be.
Faculty, their families and students alike flocked to the event and stood in long lines to try the delicious food and even have an opportunity to hold a parrot, courtesy of Casa de La Parrot. The Ford Fieldhouse buzzed as the warm, savory and salty flavors permeated the air and mingled with the excitement of the night.
The event featured different dishes from countries such as Columbia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Some of the dishes ranged from the sweet Saudi Arabian dish, Kleeja, which is known as a cardamom cookie, to the savory Vietnamese dish of Cha Ca, grilled fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric, and dill.
“We wanted a lot of variety between the foods,” said Jose Mora, co-advisor in HSO. “There is so much variety in cultures. There is so much stuff we’re not even aware of, so this is a little piece of it today. A little globalization.”
The night continued on even after the last plate had been filled, with various performances featuring students, many who are participating in the music program offered at GRCC. The performances included belly dancing, a dance performance representing the Dominican Republic culture, and music stylings of the ukulele as well as the violin as each student shared their talent.
The festival’s overall goal was to communicate the beauty of different cultures around the world, as well as feature the diversity and talent that is a part of GRCC’s campus.
“It’s an opportunity to connect and make friendship,” Hughes said.