student events

30th International Food Festival celebrates cultures, friendships

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 7, 2017 — International students at Drury University will share their cultures with friends and guests through food and performance during the 30th annual International Food Festival at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 8 at the Commons in Findlay Student Center.

This year’s theme is the 1980s and ’80s attire is encouraged. Media are welcome to cover the event.

This popular dinner is truly a university-wide celebration, with numerous faculty, staff and American students joining their international friends each year. With nearly 13 percent of the undergraduate student population hailing from 53 countries, international culture is an important aspect of everyday life at Drury. These students bring a rich diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to campus, further enhancing a focus on global learning at a university where about half all undergraduates study abroad during their academic career.


Food is an important medium for sharing cultures because, “every culture uses food as a part of their celebrations,” says Heejung Cromley, director of international support services. The festival will feature foods from Egypt, Vietnam, France, Pakistan, Venezuela, China, Korea, and other countries.

The guests enjoying the food are not the only ones who get a meaningful experience. Students put in a lot of effort to prepare the food and it is often a daylong process. “They work so hard as a team and build friendships through this event,” says Cromley. This event is a way for international students to enjoy spending time with one another and share their culture with the community.

“It is such a wonderful opportunity for our international students to share who they are by introducing their culture through food and sharing,” says Cromley.


Media Contact: Heejung Cromley, Director of International Support Services: (417) 873-7885 or

International students strengthen friendships with annual ‘Food Fest’

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.

Food Fest

“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. 

Drury students conduct service on study abroad trip to South Africa

On Dec. 28, 2012, a group of Drury students and professors left the United States for an impactful adventure in South Africa. The purpose of the study abroad trip was to give students the chance to experience a different part of the world while volunteering in an orphanage and a South African town. What the students saw and did during their time there is an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Psychology Professors Jennifer Silva Brown and Rachael Herrington led the students on the trip. The first stop was Cape Town, a city filled with diversity, beauty and comfort. For five days, students explored the city, foods, sights and culture. Rebecca Vogt, a senior studying psychology and sociology, went on the study abroad trip to be exposed to a new culture and lifestyle. “I expected to be outside my comfort zone in many instances, but also to learn what it’s like to meet and talk to other people who have grown up with different experiences than my own,” Vogt said.

Drury students and professors with children from the Dream Catcher Foundation’s after school program.

After spending time in Cape Town, the group moved on to Melkhoutfontein, a fishing and farming community with about 2,000 residents. A day was spent volunteering at an orphanage. Many children housed at the orphanage had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and came from dark pasts. “The amazing thing about the orphanage is that the woman and son that run it do it solely on their own income,” said Dr. Herrington. “They are always in need of help with school supplies and medicine. It’s inspiring that they do so much.”

The next week, Drury students worked with the Dream Catcher Kids, an after-school group created to give children a positive place to go after they finished school for the day in Melkhoutfontein. “The kids were bright, energetic and loved getting to talk and do activities with us,” said Vogt. “It was great to see that we brought something positive to their lives, especially since many of them came from difficult home situations.”

Dr. Silva Brown and Dr. Herrington both agreed that the trip was a success. Each Drury student had the opportunity to authentically experience the local culture within his or her volunteer roles. Some students worked with after-school kids, others worked in a nursery, delivered medicine, or worked in a pharmacy. “Lessons will be there for years to come. We witnessed just how much we take for granted,” said Dr. Silva Brown. The biggest takeaway for Vogt was the realization that everyone comes from a different background, “It’s important to accept and understand differences,” she said. “I feel like I am more culturally aware and a global citizen because of this trip.”

If you are interested in making a donation to the orphanage, please contact Dr. Rachael Herrington at or 417-873-6920.


Story by Amber Perdue, a senior advertising and public relations major.