In the past three months, I’ve attended a Diwali (The Hindi celebration of Light in the Darkness) in my rural Kansas town, thanks for my friends and colleagues from India. Two days later, I had a wonderful Filipino meal, which included Pancit, stews, and bread. There I watched as my friends, Karen and Jonathan, parents witnessed their first snowfall, back in November. All this while, I had the honor of interacting with a wide range of folks. I learned a little more about them by sharing in their cultural celebrations and the foods of their regions and countries. It’s my favorite thing to do! I walk away, a little fuller in my stomach, heart, and mind. I will chronicle some of the events, here. The food from the Diwali included curry spices, chick peas, basmati rice, potatoes, chicken, and, in the white bowl, Gulab Jamun, these wonderful little pastry-like rounds soaked in syrup. This food fed my soul!
Eating with my friends, who hail from the Philippines, we were treated to pancit, a clear noodle and vegetables dish with lovely flavors of garlic and savory flavors of pork (the preference of our host). We were also treated to a stew with beef and Lumpia, a spring roll of vegetables and meat. Yes! Also the first snow for Karen’s parents!
Well, it’s been a few weeks since this pleasant evening out on the porch, but I’ve wanted to tell you about it for a while. We call it, “Happy Hour”. We each bring food and drink to share. In addition to the homemade pizzas, cheese, and dessert that I offered, my friends brought cooked carrots, the best Leche de flan from my friend, Karen, who apparently learned to bake this velvety, smooth custard in her home country of the Philippines. She’s pictured above with her parents’ first snow fall while on a visit to the U.S. Another friend offered her sweet carrots, and another brought apple cobbler, and we had chicken pot pie. In such “happy hours”, I’d say the conversation stands as the most important aspect with food bringing up a close second. I found it interesting that, on this particular occasion, the men sat outside, and the women sat inside. Hmmmm….I wonder why this happened.
For an appetizer, I made my own type of Bourisin cheese by draining whole-milk, Greek style yogurt in a hanging cheese cloth. I added my own blend of dehydrated vegetables for a tangy cheese spread. One of my favorite things to do is make pizza dough and have all the trimmings of vegetables, meats, cheeses, sauces (marinara and pesto are my favorite sauces to have available), and attendees make their own pizzas. We have a great time. Here are some of the offerings for this lovely October evening: 1) My “Boursin” cheese nestled in a clay pot, 2) Baked pizza with pesto, and 3) Leche de Flan
I am a geographer specializing in human systems. My passion is studying underrepresented populations so that I can assist in their integration into the communities in which they live. I studied Human Ecology because it is a wonderful blend of the disciplines of geography, anthropology and sociology. No matter the context in which I find myself, I am an observer of humans in their environments and how the influences in those settings build and nurture sense-of-self, sense-of-place, and sense-of-direction in educational, familial, and community settings. My work focuses on the cross-cultural and intercultural traditions of multi-lingual populations acculturating into their receiving communities and being successful in educational arenas of higher education. This work includes gathering, analyzing, and writing about health, well-being, and environmental/social connectedness in their communities. My research focuses on Minority-majority, rural, Midwest communities. My role as director of intercultural learning and academic success at Kansas State University allows me to discover more about myself as I work with others in their paths to self-discovery in their own interactions with students and families who come from different parts of the country and the world all converging in educational spaces. Recently, I lived, worked and played in Southwest Kansas, a region marked by Minority-majority populations centers (56% – 68%). Some of my research results are used to address poverty, low educational attainment, poor health outcomes, and cultural norms in multi-cultural settings. I work to assure a representative sample for my research, so I engage in multi-lingual research (English, Spanish, Burmese, French, Tigrinya, and Somali). Building trust and relationships is the key to my success as a multilingual researcher. Presently, my research takes me in the micro-communities of populations represented by nine African countries (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Somalia, and Cameroon), seven Latin American countries, and six Asian countries. Yes, it is rural Southwest Kansas, and many of the densely-settled and frontier rural communities act as receiving centers for refugees and other displaced populations, because of the availability of jobs.
I am the recent recipient of National Geographic Society’s Research and Exploration grant to introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to females of color. This inter-generational, intercultural class hosted middle school, high school, and adult females who learned the basics of GIS with a variety of applications from remote sensing to city planning to Google Earth, and to Pokémon GO! By the time the young ladies finished the class, they were able to build cities, map their communities, log trips from their countries of origin to the Midwest. I am in the mid-year of the grant funding, and my target for completion was July 2018. I have new funding to extend this work to new cohorts.
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2 thoughts on “Food in Social and Intercultural Interactions!”
Lovely post. I am hoping you will come to Kolkata some day.
Kolkata would be a lovely place to visit! Thank you.
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