Food bringing together cultures: Students from around globe gather over international dishes

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Jiandong Xu photo

Students mingle outside the Trojan Center ballrooms after a festival held by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association 

Jiandong Xu 

Stephen Case and his friends held a party in his house where the food strengthened relationships between cultures.

Case and Yisong Huang prepared a Chinese dish called Mapo Toufu. Case is a finance major from Birmingham and was a junior in the spring. Yisong Huang is a journalism major from Wuxi city, Jiangsu province, China, who was a sophomore.

“Stephen has great learning ability, and he likes Chinese culture and various kinds of food very much, which is the important reason why we became good friends,” Huang said.

“I am very glad that I can teach him Chinese cuisine in the life of studying abroad.”

‘A garden of food’

Case described Troy University as “not only a garden of communication but also a garden of food.”

“I met several Chinese students,” Case said. “We often chat and play games together. On weekends, I drive them to shop to buy some ingredients for dinner.

“They often share delicious Chinese food with me, such as dumplings, fried rice, chicken soup and so on. I think Chinese food culture is profound.

“However, what surprised me even more was that they told me that these delicacies were only a small part of Chinese cuisine. In China, every region has its special food. Even one city has hundreds of kinds.”

U.S. students often interact with international students. When they eat delicious food, they will  ask who made the dish and ask how to make it. 

They often play card games with international students to warm up the atmosphere.

These students are from different countries all across the globe. Some are part of the 1-2-1 international program, which allows international students to study in their home countries for the first year and the fourth year of college, with two years of studies at Troy.

The program also promotes cultural and educational exchanges between the United States and other countries.

Hundreds of internationals

Troy University is one of Alabama’s most international colleges, with 700 or more students from other nations on the main campus, according to the international office.

The university has set up a Confucius Institute that teaches international students and U.S students the Chinese language, which will facilitate communication between international students from different countries and Chinese students. 

The Confucius Institute also offers courses to introduce Chinese history, cultural relics, traditional culture and festival customs to  students.

“Many students also like the beautiful Chinese language very much, although  they think it is a little difficult for them,” said Silvia Li, the university’s director of special international initiatives.

International students make American friends, who help them improve their English skills.

International student group

ISCO, more formally known as the International Student Cultural Organization, brings international students from many countries and American students together.

Students can form groups there to chat. They can talk about food and daily life.

“I like communicating with students from different countries very much,” said Yutong Cao, a journalism major from Yancheng city, Jiangsu province, China, who was a sophomore in the spring. 

“I can improve my language skills and learn about the profound cultures of many countries.

“I am very grateful to Troy University for giving me this platform to expand my horizon and knowledge. The rich resources of international students in this university can improve students from different countries in many aspects.”

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