Last Monday, the Intercultural Center held this year’s first Food for the Soul event, a weekly dinner event that was created last year. The program aims to connect students together through shared meals, providing a support network on campus. Each week, participants try different off-campus food from local restaurants and join workshops, which sometimes are with guests.
This week’s Food for the Soul served food from Rasa Ria and included a workshop with Shane Bernardo. Rasa Ria provided Indonesian & Malaysian noodles and curry. Vegetarian options were offered as well. Rasa Ria is located nearby and has a Asian culture background. Its rice gave Asian students the feeling of home and other students some insights of Asian food.
After the Food for Soul, Shane Bernardo, a guest brought by Arcus Center director Mia Henry, talked about his experience of his first college year to give advice and supports for the newcomers. Shane is a Filipino-American food justice protester from Detroit. He is also active within the Uprooting Racism Planting Justice, fellow with the Detroit Equity Action Lab and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. He is a founding member of swimming in the Detroit River as well.
His feeling of being isolated and alone of his first day of college broke the ice in the room, as students eat separately in silence, and the students started to talk about their experiences of being different from the “centralized race,” the majority. As they sharing their feelings, bright smiles came back to their faces.
“The workshop section is the soul of the Food for the Soul,” director of the Office of Intercultural Student Life and event hostess Natalia Carvalho-Pinto said. She describes the goal for Food for the Soul as a way to gather K community members to discuss issues where people can eat and talk and listen to each other. “Food for Soul is targeted at students of color, international students, and the first generation students, but anyone is welcomed here,” she said.
Intercultural Center was established one and half years ago due to student protest. Carvalho-Pinto came to campus in order to respond to students’ desire of a safe space for supports and help. The impact of the new office is still improving amongst the student population, judged from attendance data from last years. Attendance increased from 144 students in the fall of 2016 to 259 students in the following spring. However, the attendance for workshop is still the same.
Natalia hopes students can enjoy the workshop even more than before, and has scheduled different topics for each week. Topics range from relationship to career, from education and courage to craft making. Students even can request for topic of workshop. She invites different guests as well, such as 4th week’s guest, Olmeca, who is a bilingual Hip-Hop artist and producer who blends Latin and Hip-Hop in his music.
Students who are interested in attending Food for the Soul can stop by every Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.