Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Husky Harvest Festival: Around the world in a matter of hours

Sam Hill | The Free Press

Posted on November 24, 2014 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

Sam Hill | The Free Press

By Dora Thompson

The second annual Husky Harvest brought the Woodbury Campus Center to life this Thursday with food and dance from around the world. Where else but a multicultural celebration could students and community members enjoy Hawaiian hula dancing or savor a pan fried bao to the sound of African drums?

Elizabeth Bull, a junior communications major and member of the Asian American Association Symposium had a booth at the festival and explained that students need to understand the importance of this event in order to appreciate the world around them.

“Especially now in the world that we live in its important to be culturally aware. That’s what we try to spread. People should just enjoy other cultures,” said Bull.

This short culinary trip around the globe was brought to the community by the tourism and hospitality program. The planning for the Husky Harvest was the main focus of an event planning and management class, taught by anthropology lecturer Tracy Michaud Stuzman.

“The class tried to focus on what is meaningful to us and can be fun but also helps us learn and gives us some skills that are important,” said Stuzman.

Amadeus Florendo, a student in the event planning and management class and a senior tourism and hospitality major was in charge of getting outside vendors to participate in the festival.

This event was also worked on by a food and culture class, who work with USM’s English as a second language students to learn recipes from their home countries. In exchange, the English as a second language class interviewed the food and culture class about their experience learning to read and write in English. The two classes worked on the multicultural recipes together from Turkey, India and Africa, which were served to them at the Husky Harvest last week.

“What’s created is fun food that they share with everybody. Food is such a great way to engage in different cultures,” said Stuzman.

Besides the homemade dishes made from these exchanged recipes, the Husky Harvest featured food from community vendors and student groups. Slab, Panda Express and The Boothbay House of Pizza offered samples of their cuisine. The Confucius Institute here at USM offered examples of traditional Chinese food. The Confucius Institute connects USM to its sister University in Beijing, and offers Chinese language courses and traditional Chinese festivals to help introduce the culture to USM students and community members.

“I think it’s important to have multicultural events at USM especially for the multicultural students,” said  Zhao Yue, co-director of the Confucius Institute.

Complimenting the delicious dishes were traditional dances being performed throughout the day. Konstantina Rigas, a senior in the tourism and hospitality program, preformed Greek dancing, and helped cook Greek food with her family, who own The Boothbay Harbor.

She said that she takes any opportunity she can to represent the Greek culture. The last song was open to anyone that wanted to try their hand at the art form. One dance was called Tsirigotakis, an Island love song.

“In Maine we don’t have that much diversity, so when an opportunity arises where different cultures can come together and be represented it’s good to take that chance,”  Rigas laughed.

James Welsh, a history teacher at the Gorham High School is teaching  a Chinese culture class and brought some of his students to the Husky Harvest.

“Food, dancing and music are the easiest way to expose my students. These are all cultural barrier breakers,” said Welsh. “Hopefully my students won’t feel as hesitant to take a language or join a club or anything like that when they move on.”

Sure to only get more diverse, the Husky Harvest celebrates the vast array of cultures that exist at USM in a way that is accessible, entertaining and ridiculously tasty.