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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

St. Joe’s celebrates diversity at Taste of the World amid racial incidents

Carla Rodriguez ’20 of LSA serves students at Taste of the World. PHOTOS: Mitchell Shields ’22

Taste of the World, a biannual feast catered by student diversity organizations on campus, returned to St. Joe’s once again on Oct. 31. Gathering in The Perch, nine student cultural organizations brought St. Joe’s community members together during a tense social climate.

For Izabelle Valentin ’20, co-president of Latin Students Association (LSA), the recent racial incidents on campus were on her mind. She felt celebrating the diversity represented at Taste of the World empowers those who make campus diverse.

“I think the message overall is that there’s so much diversity to offer on campus and it’s really a way to embrace that diversity and celebrate it,” Valentin said. “It’s something nice considering the culture and the climate here.”

As attendees made their way through Taste of the World, they saw foods next to each other that ordinarily would be thousands of miles apart, such as dishes from Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Bridging the Gap (BTG) put together Taste of the World this semester to do exactly what their name implies: bridge the gap between cultures that exist on St. Joe’s campus.

Zoe Welsh ’22, president of BTG, said food offers a perfect way to celebrate and showcase one’s culture or community. The organizations that make St. Joe’s diverse were called on to provide the food BTG needed.

“Food is a way in which a lot of cultures express themselves and show who they are,” Welsh said. “I think Taste of the World culminates what the mission for Bridging The Gap is, and that’s to bridge the gap between different cultures and ethnicities and people on campus and bring them in to celebrate and learn and fellowship with each other.”

Supplying food for the event were the African-Caribbean Student Association (ACSA), Asian Student Association (ASA), Black Student Union (BSU), Bridging the Gap (BTG), Greek Club, Hawks of India (HOI), Italian Club, Latino Student Association (LSA) and Saudi Students Club (SSC). Attendees had a variety of options to pick from including chicken wings from BSU, rellenos de papa, a Puerto Rican dish from LSA, and lumpiang shanghai, a Filipino dish, from ASA.

Students brought food from all over the globe to be served at Taste of the World this semester.

Terry Severe ’20, vice president of ACSA, said when looking at the diversity at St. Joe’s, “We’re all one.” Despite this sense of unity, Severe also acknowledges the reality of St. Joe’s campus—it’s a white-majority institution.

“It’s St. Joe’s, the atmosphere is predominantly white, no one can deny that,” Severe said. “At the same time, events like this show us there’s people of this race, this ethnicity, this religion, whatever the case is. We’re present on this campus.”

Anna Damico ’22 said she felt as if she needed two plates to keep up with her first time at the event.

“There’s different clubs here each representing different backgrounds and for all of them to come together and just like to celebrate their cultures and their foods is a really awesome,” Damico said.

Stephanie Zellner ’22, vice president of SJUPride, said she appreciated seeing a diverse community around her considering the social climate currently at St. Joe’s.

“I love how it shows the diversity on campus even in times that are a little rough on campus,” Zellner said.

Valentin said she believes exposing people to the diversity of their community is the best way to bring them closer together as a whole.

“It really forces the students to think outside of themselves and outside of what they know and what they see everyday at St. Joe’s,” Valentin said. “The diverse organizations, to stand in solidarity and say, ‘We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.’”

Welsh said BTG had a mission for Taste of the World: exposing students to those who are different than them. By bringing food from South America next to food from Asia and alongside food from the Caribbean, she hopes people will want to be part of a diverse community.

“We want people to learn more about those cultures, embrace the diversity that St. Joe’s has and to learn about it and to engage with it,” Welsh said. “Not only through food but through conversation, learning [about] and experiencing people who are different from them.”

Donald Sullivan ’23 contributed to this story.

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