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International Week Gives Students a Taste of the World—Literally!

International Week Gives Students a Taste of the World—Literally!
Jim Norman

Our Saints had an appetite for learning and world cuisines during International Week, a campus-wide event celebrating the cultures and foods of the School’s international students.

The Dining Hall team presented some outstanding globally inspired flavors throughout the week, with Asian selections on Tuesday, dishes celebrating Hispanic culture the next day, traditional Irish cuisine Thursday, and Italian recipes on Friday. It all led up to Saturday night’s grand finale—International AfFair, a world cuisines extravaganza prepared and served by our students in the Steers Center Ragland Commons.

The participants worked extra hard to bring their countries’ recipes and ingredients to faculty, staff, and classmates, according to Julio Omaña P ’19, ’20, Director of International Travel Programs and Language Teacher, who teamed with Director of Community Life EJ Soifersmith P ’27 to help run the event. “The students are the true heroes of International AfFair, having dedicated hours upon hours between classes and games and practices and rehearsals—oh, and school work!—to get it done,” he said.

Indeed, it was a busy week for our student chefs. They shopped for ingredients during the four days leading up to the event, then prepped and cooked food Friday night and during the day on Saturday. All food prep—slicing, dicing, cutting, and chopping—was completed in the Brodie Room kitchen. Special thanks to Spanish Teacher Miranda Ochoa Natera and the Omañas—Julio and Theology Department Chair Amy P ’19, ’20—for opening up their kitchens for students to use for the cooking. 

With the flags of our international students’ countries hanging impressively overhead, the Canterbury community stopped by to taste the delicious selections and chat with the students at each table. The world’s cuisines were well-represented:

  • Afghanistan: Bolani and Chakni (prepared by Marjan Faqiri ’25 and Sima Samar ’24)
  • Bangladesh: Pakora (Zeba Ahmed ’26)
  • Canada: Maple Syrup Taffy (Elsa Copeland ’24)  
  • China: Eight Treasures Chili Sauce with Stir Fried Noodles, Purple Yam Ice Milk, Sweet & Sour Pork, Coca-Cola Chicken Wings, Spicy Hot Pot, Xinjiang Chicken, Sweet Dumplings, Brown Sugar Pie, and Coconut Rice Pudding (Andrew Chen ’23, Yuntong “Curley” Chu ’24, Houer “Daisy” Dai ’24, Yueanshu “Angel” Fu ’25, Yuge “Ingrid” Fu ’26, Zhe “Andrew” Ji ’23, Yuqi “Angel” Jia ’26, Boyang Jiang ’26, Bowen Lei ’25, Jing “Kitty” Miao ’25, Qifeng “Steven” Song ’24, Xinyi “Lisa” Weng ’23, Fiona Yao ’23, and Yueqi “Jessica” Zhao ’25)
  • Colombia: Mango Biche and Obleas con Arequipe (Felipe Siabatto ’24 and Tomás Siabatto ’24)
  • France: Crepes with Nutella, Bananas, and Strawberries (Chloe Herr ’24)
  • Korea: Bulgogi, Bibimbap, and Japchae (Seoin “Eva” Choi ’25, Youngchan “Tony” Choi ’23, Junseong Jo ’23, Rahee “Ren” Kim ’25, and Sujean Park ’23)
  • Mexico: Guacamole and Chips (Luciana Jorge Gutierrez ’25 and Rossana Mir ’25)
  • Russia: Medovik and Syrniki (Eva Berkovich ’24)
  • Singapore: Chicken Satay (Francesca Masi ’26)
  • Spain: Spanish Omelet (Gabriela Buján Burgos ’25 and José Mugica ’25)

The event was incredibly meaningful for the students involved. “The international food fair was an amazing experience,” Zeba said after presenting her dish from Bangladesh. “I brought a classic South Asian snack, Pakora, which is mixed vegetables coated with batter. I am so glad my peers could have a taste of my culture, and it made me even happier to see that they enjoyed it. I cannot wait to do this again!”

And that, Julio said, was precisely what made the night so successful. “It went well because of student participation on both sides of the tables—the preparers and presenters (our international students) as well as those who came to taste and learn,” he explained. “The energy in the room was upbeat, and it was a wonderful celebration of the different countries and cultures represented in our student body.”