April 27, 2015
International students at Drury University recently had a chance to proudly share a taste – literally – of their home cultures with their American peers.
The International Food Festival is an annual event organized by the International Student Association. With a formal “black and white” theme this year, the dinner was a chance to get dressed up, have fun on a Saturday night and amplify the type of cultural exchange that happens daily on campus.
Despite the name, the event is about more than food. There were performances of traditional songs, music and dances, as well as a few just-for-fun performances of American songs. The highlight of the evening is the “Parade of Flags” in which students carry the colors of their homelands through the banquet hall – beaming with pride as they do so.
“Everything was made by international students, from the food to the traditional clothing,” says Yousra Alaoui-Sosse, a sophomore biology major from Morocco.
Brandon Roellig, a junior from mid-Missouri, is friends with many foreign students who are fellow architecture majors or fraternity brothers. He attended the dinner to support his friends and jumped at the chance to try food from their home countries.
“Drury would not be the same without the internationals, I know that much,” Roellig says. “We (Americans) really connect with them. They bring a different culture to campus, a different environment, and I love it.”
International students make up about 12 percent of Drury’s total enrollment, a number that’s been growing in recent years. They hail from more than 50 countries.
“Coming here to the United States and being international is just awesome because no matter how different we are, we all fit,” says Alaoui-Sosse. “We’re all different, but we’re all accepted for who we are.”
Drury’s close-knit atmosphere provides an excellent place for internationals to form friendships amongst themselves and with their fellow students from the United States.
“Americans are very open-minded, very open to change or to try something new,” says Stefanie Monsch, a senior marketing & management major from Germany. “Americans actually do want to learn about something new. They do want to learn about another culture.”
Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.