International Club presents International Food Festival, “Dorm Edition”February 11, 2021 - João Pedro Rodrigues
Studying abroad requires the ability to embrace and live a different culture every day. As an international student, you become familiar with so many aspects of a new culture that can sometimes be overwhelming. There are several new things that you learn to love and embrace about your own culture. For example, if you ask me what I miss most about my country, I will undoubtedly say the food (besides my family, of course)!
One of my sweetest memories of my freshman year at Ouachita was sharing a little taste from home with my friends and even the entire swimming team. After successful and positive feedback from my new college friends, I was excited to see more people trying brigadeiros, this unique fudgy chocolate dessert. So, I ended up cooking a whole batch (yes, at my dorm) to share with the swimming team during our first week of practice. I barely knew any of those people, but there was something special about sharing something so dear to me. The coaches and the entire team were quite surprised by this gesture and, most importantly, the taste! Later that semester, I learned that Ouachita had its way of sharing this familiar feeling around international students – the International Food Festival (IFF).
(Left) João preparing his brigadeiros to share with friends for IFF 2018 and (right) posing with friends in Walker Conference Center at IFF 2019.
IFF is a celebration of international students’ cultures, bringing the Ouachita and Arkadelphia community together for a fellowship to taste home-cooked meals from more than 33 countries. Ouachita’s International Club and the Daniel and Betty Jo Grant Center host a new edition of the International Food Festival every year to give students a unique opportunity to connect and engage with the international student community and their roots. During my freshman year, I joined the International Food Festival committee and cooked more than 850 brigadeiros for that year’s festival. It was a lot of fun!
When I look back to the swimming story, I recognize the importance and moments that food can provide us. Food is this powerful channel that connects and gives people personal experiences, providing a literal taste of culture. Also, I realize how many memories were related to food throughout my college years, if that was the countless hours working and being a part of this incredible event, or even the first time I had Chick-fil-A at the Evans Student Center (no, we don’t have Chick-fil-A in Brazil).
During this unprecedented year, the long-standing Ouachita tradition is back for its 2021 edition and reinventing international students’ ability to share a little taste from their culture. Entitled “International Food Festival: Dorm Edition,” this year’s edition will bring a sweet taste of the world directly to the comfort of your dorm! On Tuesday, Feb. 16, every member of the Ouachita community can pick up a gift bag with a selection of international candies, Kenyan tea and an exclusive IFF mug. Distribution spots will be announced soon. Also, don’t forget to check the recipe cards and the incredible cooking videos made for this year’s edition – including a recipe for brigadeiros!
I believe that IFF has always been a particular part of Ouachita for its international students. We love the idea of coming together to share a little piece of who we are, and this year won't be any different. On behalf of all Ouachita international students, I invite you to join us for this year's IFF and take a sweet bite of the delights that food can provide!
By João Pedro Rodrigues, a senior finance major from Ribeirão Preto, Brazil