By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney will kick off International Education Week by hosting one of its most popular events.
Campus and community members are invited to explore the world during the 44th annual Scott D. Morris International Food and Cultural Festival. Scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Nov. 14 in UNK’s Health and Sports Center, the festival celebrates UNK’s international students while showcasing their cultures and cuisine. It’s free and open to the public.
Organized by the International Student Association, Korean Student Association at Kearney, Japanese Association at Kearney and other students, the event features food and drink from 11 different countries, along with traditional and modern performances and country-specific booths with games and educational activities.
This year’s menu includes dishes from Guatemala, Nepal, Germany, Thailand, Korea, Belgium, Italy, Japan, India, Oman and Colombia. Attendees also receive a free cookbook so they can make the recipes at home.
“That’s always one of the highlights, getting the opportunity to taste all of the different flavors and meals,” said Tracy Falconer, an assistant director in UNK’s Office of International Education.
Around 100 students participate in the International Food and Cultural Festival, which typically draws about 2,000 guests. That interaction between the campus and community is a key component of the event’s success.
“Oftentimes people ask me if I like my job, and I tell them I believe I have the best job on campus. The reason why I have the best job on campus is because our international students are absolutely amazing. They’re an amazing group of people to talk to and get to know,” Falconer said. “One of the best ways for the community to get to do that is by coming to the festival.”
Previously hosted in the spring, the festival is now part of International Education Week, a national initiative that promotes the benefits of international education and exchange.
International education is an important part of the overall mission at UNK, where more than 250 international students from 56 countries are currently enrolled. The university also offers dozens of opportunities for domestic students to study abroad, with programs ranging from a few weeks to a full year.
“Even though we’re in central Nebraska, we want everyone on campus and in the community to realize that we live in a global society. We couldn’t think of a better way to highlight the value of international experiences than by hosting this wonderful campus event,” Falconer said.
The International Food and Cultural Festival is sponsored by Morris Printing Group of Kearney, UNK LoperNites, the Pepsi Fund and UNK’s Office of International Education.