The annual International Food Fest occurred on Thursday, Nov. 8 in front of the Student Resource Building. Various clubs participated by setting up food stands with cuisine from their respective cultures as a way to promote International Education Week. Reminiscent of the traditional street food stands encountered in countries such as China, Thailand, and Mexico, many UCSB students were drawn to this event out of nostalgia and curiosity.
The participating clubs of this year included Education Abroad Program, Indus, International Students Association, Chinese Student & Scholars Association, Taiwanese Student Association, and Southeast Asian Student Union.
Only an hour after the event had begun, the Indus booth had already sold out of their samosas, a popular fried snack in regions across the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa. Likewise, the International Students Association booth had sold out of their milk teas, a popular drink from Taiwan that blends freshly brewed black or green tea with a dash of cream. Luckily, they were still stocked on their steamed dumplings, a favorite appetizer among people in China as well as many others across the world, who have their own variations.
One of the people in charge of the International Student Association booth was Erika Shinoda, a second year communication major who was also part of the Japanese Student Association and International Student Advising Board. According to Shinoda, events such as the International Food Fest not only allow UCSB students to experience the cultures outside of their own, but also give international students from foreign exchange or transfer programs experiences that make them feel more at home at UCSB.
In a nearby booth, the Taiwanese Student Association sold scallion pancakes, a fried dish made of flatbread and green onions originating from China but equally as popular in Taiwan. In fact, it seemed quite popular among the UCSB students as well, as the savory smell and the constant sizzles of the pancakes hitting the hot pan drew in many interested customers.
Another booth that attracted customers with the scent of spices was the Southeast Asian Union selling Thai curry. As stated by Miso Jang, a fourth year sociology and Asian American studies major minoring in education, curry is a food that encompasses many different cultures because of all the different ways one can prepare it. Despite its origins in the Indian subcontinent, it’s also popular within Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Africa, the West Indies, and even the United Kingdom.
The purpose of the Southeast Asian Union is to promote the visibility and voices of Southeast Asians such as Thai, Laos, and Cambodian students, which tend to be underrepresented in Asian American culture.
International Education Week, created by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education, drives students to broaden their experiences as global students of the world. All cultures are encouraged to be celebrated as often as desired in order to prepare future leaders for study abroad and exchange experiences.