James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs coordinator, 308.865.8944
If you have ever wanted a taste of Nepal or a sense of the Japanese culture, the 30th annual Scott and Cheryl Morris International Food and Culture Festival on Sunday, March 4, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is a fitting opportunity to satisfy those cravings.
From 3-6 p.m., culinary skills from more than 16 countries will be featured in the UNK Health and Sports Center. American food will also be available for those who are squeamish about exotic foods.
Part of the James E. Smith Conference on World Affairs and organized by the International Student Association (ISA), the festival will not only include enough food samples for 3,000 people, but it will also feature cultural aspects of the countries represented.
ISA President Burty Macwan said almost all cultures will be represented at the festival. He also said that oftentimes a student may be the only person from his or her country, so students are occasionally paired in regions.
Macwan said the student participants are not limited to just cooking at the event. Many students help with decorations, attend the festival in their traditional clothing, or entertain with music and dancing of their native country.
“Even if the students are not performing or cooking, they will be dressed in their traditional costumes,” Macwan said.
The food served at the festival is accompanied by cookbooks, which are donated by Morris Press Group for the students to share their recipes. In addition to the aesthetic and culinary attractions, there will be 18 performances during the festival ranging from martial arts demonstrations to dances.
Numerous UNK organizations, departments and Kearney civic groups are sponsoring information booths at the festival. The booths include activities such as Japanese calligraphy.
Macwan said new features for the festival this year include posters that regard hardships experienced by international students and their home countries, as well as more interactive booths. The event is also going eco-friendly using plastic plates made of biodegradable plastic, forks made of sugar-cane pulp, and attendees are strongly encouraged to recycle appropriate materials at the event.
The festival will also be Webcast for the second straight year. Those wishing to watch the event online can access the Webcast by moving their cursor over “UNK News” on the UNK home page and clicking the “Webcast” link.
Macwan said the goal of the food festival is to increase cultural awareness. “[The festival’s] purpose is to show unity amongst diversity – to display how the world embraces UNK and UNK embraces the world. By doing this event annually, we want to spread the message that cultural awareness is not a onetime affair, but is a continuous process, and that culture is dynamic,” Macwan said.
Macwan added that the greatest thing that one can learn from the festival is that “we all are united as human beings in spite of the diversity.”
The International Food Festival is funded by Scott and Cheryl Morris, along with secondary funding by UPFF funds and Wells Fargo. Board members of ISA are the primary organizers of the event, and they are aided by International Student Services staff.
ISA is a UNK student organization that has more than 300 members from 43 different countries.