Among the poster presentations, music performances, and all the other hustle and bustle, Furman Engaged welcomed back its annual International Food Festival since the pandemic in 2020. Until this year, the only students on campus allowed to take part in the festival were the senior class. Thanks to FUSIA, it's safe to say that the event was a big hit this year!
The event was spearheaded by Riya Misal and Srikar Alapati but was truly a collaboration of numerous organizations on campus. The Furman University International Student Association (FUISA) hosted the event. They received help from HOLA, CSA, Student Diversity Council (SDC), CIC, and OSII. The event aimed to highlight many cultures and diverse student organizations on campus. The food festival prompted awareness and engagement among the entire student body. The International Food Festival was an all-hands-on-deck event and received help from numerous SDC organizations (SLBC, HOLA, FUISA, FPA, NAACP, NAIA, CSA, ASIA) and SGA.
The International Food Festival was held in Watkins Room and represented an array of countries: India, the Middle East, Mexico, El Salvador, Thailand and China. The food was provided by local restaurants in Greenville, including Saffron (India), Pita House (Middle East), Comal864 (Mexico), Pupuseria La Estrella (El Salvador), Sirin Thai (Thailand), and Koi (China). All food ordered for the event was an effort to give the Furman community a taste of diverse and ethnic cuisine from all over.
Prior to opening Watkin's doors to serve, the line was out the door and engulfed Trone. During its peak, the line even went all the outside of Trone. It was definitely worth the wait though! Each station served about 4 dishes from the country. Popular dishes were crab rangoons, chicken tikka masala, pita and hummus, tres leches cake, samosas, and several other options available. Dietary restrictions were also taken into consideration so all students could take part in the event. No matter the restriction, you were sure to find something delicious to try.
After the event, Riya shed light on her favorite parts of the event and her hope for the future of the International Food Festival. Below, I have included my conversation with Riya.
What was your favorite part?
Seeing so many community interactions and everyone looking carefree and happy was amazing! It was incredible to see major student attendance again (I think we had over 400-500 people come through) and see everyone engage with each other. This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that things felt so normal, and I hope that we continue seeing more of this in the coming year! Building community and increasing student engagement has been at the forefront of my SGA goals, so it was a rewarding experience to see it come all to light at the Food Festival.
What do you hope for the Future of the International Food Festival (IFF)?
I hope that IFF in the future can continue to be a place where the community can come together and appreciate the beautiful cultures of the world and engage and celebrate our diverse student body!
After the International Food Festival’s break, it's safe to say that the event came back as a major success! Among students who presented their research and internships, the food festival showcased a wide range of diverse cultures represented on campus.
Please reach out to Srikar Alapati, the current FUISA president, if you are interested in helping organize and support the event next year!