International Food Fair Embraces Campus Diversity

The University of Southern Mississippi International Student & Scholar Services and English Language Institute (ELI) will host their annual International Food Fair, a special event to showcase the university’s international students and their cultures.

I think learning about other people’s culture aids people in learning the human experience,” USM alumnus Tyler Meador said. “I am so thankful for the (Center for International Education) at Southern Miss. Food is something all humans connect with and it gives students the opportunity to learn about people’s culture and eat good food at the same time.”

The International Food Fair provides international students with an opportunity to share their customs and cultures by offering their favorite foods from those backgrounds with the area community. Participants dress in traditional clothing to represent their backgrounds. Posters and backdrops of photos and facts about participants’ home countries will also be displayed.

The food fair evolved from a general International Fair that was mainly culture-oriented, but each year, more students showed desires to serve food at their tables. In spring 2003, the annual International Food Fair was born with a focus on international foods.

This year, the International Food Fair will take place Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Baptist Student Union. Coordinators of the fair and both departments are anticipating at least 200 attendees for the event, which is open to anyone.

The students who set up displays and serve the food get the opportunity to interact on a personal level with American students and community members,” said Elizabeth Shoemake, interim director of International Student and Scholar Services.

The people who come to the fair get to meet people from all over the world, and have a gastronomic tour of the globe in a matter of a couple of hours.” 

Students of any background from the Center for International Education were encouraged to take the opportunity to share a piece of a unique heritage with the Southern Miss community. A $2 entry fee will be collected at the door.

It’s amazing to see all of the international and Southern Miss students coming together in one place,” said Hannah Jones, coordinator for the Center of International Education.

I think that the food fair benefits everyone. It gives a chance for the international students to show off their culture and for USM students to learn about some of the diverse cultures of the world.”