Mexico’s Carlota to Gambia’s Chu Yassa: Campus celebrates diversity with global culinary feast
UPES hosts over 60 exchange students from 27 different countries and the event was organised to celebrate the cultural diversity on campus and help foster unity through the medium of food
In a bid to celebrate the cultural diversity on its campus, UPES recently organised its first international food festival on April 24. Exchange students from countries such as Mexico, Bhutan, Ghana, South Sudan, and Nepal, among others, participated in the event.
Mouth-watering fares included Kewa Datshi and Fried Rice of Bhutan, Wai Wai Sadeko of Nepal, Swahili Buns of Ghana, South Sudan’s Cassava Leaves, Cameroon’s Ndoleh, Chicken Sauce and Fried Potatoes, Mexico’s Carlota and Gambia’s Chu Yassa.
Anusha Mirza, an exchange student from UAE in 3rd year Product Design, served delectable Chicken Shawarma and Hummus to the long queue of visitors thronging her stall.
She enjoyed making the dishes, she says. “It’s been good fun participating in the international food festival. We all enjoyed making Shawarma and Hummus. We hope to participate in another event soon,” she adds.
Jenisha Neupane of Nepal is in the final semester of her LL.M. course at UPES. She served her country’s “go-to snack” Wai Wai Sadeko at the festival.
“I would like to thank UPES and the Department of International Affairs for the international food festival,” Jenisha says. “Personally, for me it was a bonding opportunity with my Indian friends who volunteered to help me before and during the festival. All the participants had a gala time presenting their dishes. We got to taste numerous different flavours in a day,” she adds.
Calling the fiesta a “big hit”, Jenisha says that seeing so many different people enjoying local Nepalese food made her very happy. “People loved our food so much that they came for second and third servings,” she quips.
“It was an enriching experience for us as we could showcase Cameroonian culinary know-how,” says PhD scholar Armel M Nganda who prepared two traditional meals Ndoleh and Chicken Sauce with Fried Irish Potatoes. Armel says he was pleasantly surprised to discover the similarities between Indian and Cameroonian food.
His dishes were sold out within minutes and he was elated with the positive feedback he received from students and faculty alike.
According to Dr Sheetal Khanka, Deputy Director, Department of International Affairs (DIA), UPES, the event was intended to be a “showcase of culinary excellence” that would help promote cultural unity on campus.
“It was an opportunity to learn about the cultures and traditions of different countries through the medium of local cuisines,” she added.
The novel idea was floated by some of the 60+ exchange students at UPES who felt that an event like a food festival could help connect different cultures on campus.
The idea immediately found a lot of backers, and a series of meetings and brainstorming sessions later, a plan had been put in place to bring the idea to fruition. With support from different stakeholders at the university, the event was held with much fanfare in the last week of April.
The incredible gala received positive response and earned so many rave reviews that the DIA is now considering making it a biannual event.
“We definitely would like to do this event more often. With the kind of positive feedback we have received, we will organise it two times every year, one in each semester,” Dr Sheetal confirms.
“The event was an amazing bonding platform for all UPES students, staff, faculty, and acknowledged the diversity we have. The international students received encouragement from everyone and their culinary skills were much appreciated. The UPES students got to know more about various cultures. Everyone enjoyed the food, music, songs, and dance celebrations during the event,” she adds before signing off.