Excitement and laughter was buzzing in the air throughout the New Balance Recreation Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 as Culturefest took place. After three years of disruption, the Culturefest finally returned to its original pre-pandemic format that allows everyone to mingle and truly experience a taste of different cultures, and it could not have gone better.
There were many different nationalities that had such unique and special things to offer, creating a medley of amazing cuisine to dive into for anyone at the Culturefest. The Culturefest is truly a hidden gem that happens every year. With the disruption of the pandemic for a few years, it was tough to host the event to the caliber it usually had been, but this year it was finally back in full swing.In learning about other cultures and nationalities, we can support a more inclusive environment as well as learn about the many traditions and practices other cultures have. We are lucky at UMaine to have many diverse cultures right here on campus, and the Culturefest is a great way to learn more about the world and our community members.
The event is hosted annually by the Office of International Programs and it is free admission. Anyone was welcome to attend and it was a great way to learn more about other cultures through food and other fun activities.
Culturefest offered an array of activities and exhibits from many countries. China, India, Nigeria, Spain, Germany, Iran, Vietnam and Turkey were among many countries represented at the event. It was a great time filled with spectacular food and a common interest to get to know new cultures and traditions.
Jeongwon Eom, a first year international student at the University of Maine, is from South Korea. She helped run a table at the event to help represent her home country. Along with her friends’ Jeongwon was ecstatic to offer some traditional South Korean foods at her table. She says that she wanted to give those who haven’t experienced South Korean culture a chance to try the delicious food and learn a little more about the country in the process.
Jeongwon prepared several dishes for the event including some vegetarian options as well as a Korean style sparkling ade. She said that she was not expecting anyone to be familiar with the dishes, but she was pleasantly surprised when excited attendees raved about their love of Korean dishes, some even commenting that they had been to South Korea before. Jeongwon was able to create connections through food and was able to share a little piece of her culture.
As a result, Jeongwon’s table was one of the first to completely sell out of food as well as having the longest line. Their table even won an award.
“We did not expect to win first place for the best values,” Jeongwon said.“When we won the prize, we were very happy and proud of ourselves. It was our first time cooking this large amount of food and selling it.”
She says she is extremely proud of how well it went and that she is interested in participating again next year. “I think this covered the meaning of culture very well,” Jeongwon said.