Students learn about different cultures through food and dance at Global Fest

Celtic Grace Dance Troupe performs
The Celtic Grace Dance Troupe performs at Global Fest in Annapolis Hall. Photo by Ana Hurler

Students tried a selection of food and watched performances from various cultural groups Wednesday night at Global Fest, hosted by the University of Maryland South Hill Area Council in Annapolis Hall.

Small groups of students mingled in and out of the fest as they sampled the selection of dishes, which consisted of foods such as samosas, plantains and sticky rice with mango. Attendees were also treated to performances from two student groups, the Celtic Grace Dance Troupe and the African Sisters.

Senior individual studies major, Sade Ayinde, a resident assistant in Montgomery Hall, said Global Fest is an idea that has been going for several years with Resident Life. “To celebrate the diversity of all these different cultures, not only internationally, but even locally, that are represented in our own communities through the best way that we know how which is through food,” Ayinde said.

Samosas, deep fried pastries filled with meat with herbs and spices, are laid out for students to try. Photo by Ana Hurler

“I definitely don’t get this type of food in the diner, so I’m pretty happy about that,” said Rahsaan Beane, a sophomore engineering major. “I’ve never had samosas before so I’m glad I get the opportunity to try some of these things, and also the performances are very captivating. I don’t get to see African style dances too often.”

Ayinde said the goal was to provide a “light-hearted” way for students to learn about different cultures by not only showcasing food and performances, but also providing background about the origins of them as a “way to dive straight into the beauty of diversity.”

Brittney McCasland, who works with the South Campus Community Office in Calvert Hall, said the event was a way to show students the cultural diversity and food that can be found in our community.

“Especially on the University of Maryland campus, we’re a very diverse group of people and knowing more about different cultures can give somebody a better insight into other people and how their culture works,” McCasland said. “It’s important to know as much as you can about everything, and not assume and have certain opinions without knowing more about things.”

The fest also served as a way for students to be exposed to new food and dance groups so they might “find something they really love,” McCasland said.

Students mingle as they try the different foods laid out around the room. Photo by Ana Hurler

Representatives from Education Abroad and Alternative Breaks were also at the fest to provide information about opportunities for students to actively get involved with other cultures.

“In our ever-shrinking world, we come in contact with a lot of people from different cultures and it requires us to speak not just different languages, but in different manners,” said Menyae Christopher, an administrative assistant for Education Abroad.

For students, interacting with other cultures  “shows that they are adaptable, they have a cultural background sense of understanding of another person’s perspectives [and] values, and how those would affect their viewpoints,” Christopher said.

“UMD is filled with so many colorful people and so many people from so many different backgrounds,” Ayinde said. “Why not use that, and why not express that, why not celebrate that? Especially in the times that we’re in now.”

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