Students and workers unite for international dinner

by Malcolm Meyer / Beacon Correspondent • December 3, 2014

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College workers shared family recipes and traditional cuisine for International Dinner Night on Tuesday in the dining hall.

Dishes from the Caribbean, Portugal, El Salvador, and China were served in addition to the dining hall’s typical food. The student group Emerson Understanding Immigration Through Education, or Emerson UNITE, organized the event in collaboration with Sodexo.

“We hope that this event really sparks a conversation and they learn a little bit about each other through their interaction with food,” said senior Sarah Rocha, the group’s treasurer.

Rocha, a journalism major, said the group approached Steven Canario, the general manager of dining services at Emerson, who was supportive of the event. She said Canario talked to the workers to see what they wanted on the menu.

The group posted flyers at five food stations each with home cooked food. Each sheet gave information on the dish, the cook, and their connection with immigration, and facts about people from their home country immigrating to the US.

Cook Valery Alcius made Caribbean-style vegetable stew with rice and plantains. She moved from Haiti to the United States in 1992, according to the flyer at her station. She credited the recipe to her mother, who Alcius said used to make it almost every other Sunday.

“Today was amazing because the students loved the food, and I got a lot of compliments,”  Alcius said. “That made me feel good and also miss home.”

Dayna Peck, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said she went to the dining hall unaware of the foreign flair, but enjoyed the the Portuguese madeiran potatoes and linguiça sausage.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially the potatoes that had eggs in them,” Peck said. “I never thought to eat eggs with potatoes.”

Maddie Rojas Lynch, the social media chair for Emerson UNITE, said that there seems to be a misunderstanding among some staff and students of how they are affected by immigration issues. Events like this, she said, can help change people’s perceptions.

“We just want to get it in people’s minds and get this conversation going,” said Rojas Lynch, a a junior writing, literature, and publishing major, “and make them realize that it’s something that affects them and the people around them.”