On Saturday, October 24, the Malawi students joined teams of other Lakeland students from thirteen countries to take over the kitchens on campus and prepare international dishes for one of the most anticipated student-led activities of the year: Lakeland's annual International Food Festival. This event is another example of the many activities outside the classroom that the graduate students from Malawi are experiencing during their year in the U.S.
Aleme Chitanje stirs nsima, with mandazi cooking on the front burner.
The Malawi M.Ed. students began their kitchen duties at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. Together, men and women prepared nsima—a corn meal dish similar to grits or polenta—white rice, beef stew, cabbage relish, and fried bread balls called mandazi. I asked Frank Mbwana how the day of preparation had gone. "Long, and a little tiring," he said, but he was smiling, as was everyone else on the Malawi team.
When the doors to Bossard Dining Hall opened at 5:35 p.m., a long line of excited guests quickly filed in and spread out to the different stations, where international student chefs and servers awaited them. Each station was decorated with the flag of the country represented, as well as signs describing the food that had been prepared. Several students were also dressed in traditional clothing. The food was offered free-of-charge, although donations to the Global Student Association (GSA) were accepted. The hungry diners included students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the wider Sheboygan community. What everyone found was a diverse array of delicious food to sample from several corners of the globe: Brazil, Kenya, Taiwan, Italy, the Hmong tradition, Honduras, Germany, Japan, Malawi, China, Greece, Sierra Leone, Peru, and Nepal, each dish lovingly prepared by the students themselves.
As Malawian Mike Kumwamba put it, "It was a nice experience! I tasted food from Brazil, Kenya, Japan, just to name a few. Apart from tasting food from other countries and cultures, I liked the cordial interaction between students and people from the community. Usually, students don't [have time to] interact on campus due to busy schedules. This event took us off the books and assignments and brought us all together."
The president of the Global Student Association, Karen Lerindo, a junior from Kenya, said that GSA began planning the event at the start of the school year. "It's amazing," she said, "It was fun working together. Everyone had a great time."
Behind the Malawi steam table, many of the students wore matching red African shirts as they served up food from home. At the front of their table was a sign that said, "Welcome to the warm heart of Africa."
From the smiles on the faces of all the international student servers to the lively conversations at every table, the warmth of this special evening was palpable throughout the room. Staff advisor to GSA, Ryan Opahle, noted, "I think this is truly a great tradition, a great opportunity to share the many cultures of Lakeland with the entire community. Dining Services helps tremendously, and the students do an incredible job." I don't think there was anyone at the meal who would have said otherwise. Click here to see many more photos from the event.
This post was prepared by Lisa Vihos on behalf of Lakeland College. The program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Lakeland College and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID or the United States Government.