The Fall Feast is a remarkable annual event at Swarthmore for international students. During Fall Feast, chefs from different parts of the world cook food from their familiar cultural backgrounds. Students can either be an assistant to help one of the chefs and learn to cook food from a similar or different culture, or simply taste different cuisines. The Fall Feast last year was the first one after the COVID outbreak, and participants were assigned into separate groups in different kitchens due to COVID prevention restrictions. This year, however, the Fall Feast will gather all the participants together so everyone can experience all the available cuisines and enjoy a friendly and lively atmosphere.
I feel grateful to be one of the coordinators of this event and would like students from the whole campus, regardless of their cultural origins, to participate on Dec. 3. International students usually compose the majority of participants in Fall Feast, as well as other activities organized by the international student community, I20. I think, though, that domestic students should also actively join these events.
The international community, in essence, is already a blend of cultures. Besides spreading their cultures within this community, international students also want to introduce their culture to the whole college populace. Domestic students form the majority of Swarthmore, while some international cultural backgrounds may only have a few representatives. Many domestic students probably do not have the chance to encounter people with certain cultural backgrounds on a daily basis. Therefore, events like the Fall Feast are good chances to make friends with students from these cultures. The international community is not exclusively for the benefit of international students, but is meant to be a platform for intercultural communication. It is a great opportunity to broaden students’ view of the world, eliminate stereotypes, and know what is happening around the world. The more a person learns from another culture, the more capable of thinking from different perspectives they will become.
I20 makes an effort to ensure that various cultures have equal chances to represent themselves. Although objectively, there is an imbalance in that some are represented more while others are not, the important thing is that events held by the international community are opportunities to break such a trend and become exposed to cultures that are sometimes overlooked. Participating in these events could help correct biased opinions and establish connections between individuals of different cultural groups. Moreover, learning through activities and direct interaction with international students differs from reading things from a secondary source. Students represent their cultures, and they often want to talk about their lives in their native countries and teach others specialties from their hometowns. This would be an immersive learning experience that is not often encountered in a classroom. The Fall Feast allows students to gain a comprehensive understanding of others’ culture from an exchange of novel personal aspects: introductions between students in real life involve personal emotions towards their cultures and therefore bring the culture closer to whoever is interested in it.
Furthermore, domestic students have stories of their own to bring into the community. The United States is a mixture of people from different cultural backgrounds, and international students want to learn more about its national culture as well as student backgrounds that are not represented yet within the international community. Domestic students can bring their unique cultural experience to the Fall Feast and narrate their original and personal stories. In doing so, they might even encounter new friends with the same cultural background. This will help enhance and promote a cohesive community at Swarthmore with people who respect each other’s different habits and traditions. Events like the Fall Feast present an opportunity for people to make true friends who can sincerely sympathize with each other.
The invitation to the Fall Feast has been sent to the whole campus. Students do not have to be concerned about whether they have attended previous events or not because the I20 community always welcomes new friends. I20 has already begun collecting stories behind dishes from different cultures and are looking forward to more participants who wish to share, regardless of where they come from. As such, Fall Feast and events like it are a bridge for international and domestic students to understand each other. I would strongly suggest everyone actively join us in what can be one of the greatest events of the year and explore their interests in new cultures.