By Maria Fernandez
(The Lantern) – Eat a walnut pastry from Armenia, experience an Irish dance, see students in handwoven Palestinian dresses — and that’s just a small sampling. Students can have a myriad of cultural experiences in just one night at Ohio State University’s annual Taste of OSU.
There will be 32 different student organizations participating this year. Each has their own booth, which will feature food samples, displays and symbols from their cultures. There were be 26 performances which range from hip hop to martial arts to Italian dance. Food samples cost $1 each.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about OSU’s global community…about all of the various ethnic groups on campus,” said Churchill Ndonwie, a fourth-year in Health Information, Management, and Systems, and student chair of the event.
Ndonwie said that based on averages from previous years, they are expecting about 4,000 people in attendance Friday.
“It’s not just for students,” he said. “Faculty, staff come too. We also have lots of people from the Columbus area come in to try food and ask students about their culture and ethnicity. It’s very encouraging to see.”
Armine Aghabekian, a graduate student in Public Health and founder and vice president of the Armenian Students Association, said that her group participates in Taste of OSU because it is a good way to get the group’s name out and represent their country.
“We’re a very small country and most people haven’t heard of us. Those who have usually think of the genocide or celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who are Armenian,” she said. “But participating in Taste of OSU brings a more cultural side of our country.”
For the last three years, Aghabekian said the Armenian Students Association has sold the most samples of food. This year they will be featuring walnut pastries and meat boreg, a meat puffed pastry. They will be wearing traditional Armenian clothes, based on designs from 860 B.C. to 590 B.C. They will also have a booth that features a paper mache representation of Mount Arahe, one of Armenia’s best known symbols.
Leen Amin, a third-year in International Studies and World Politics, is president of both the Committee for Justice in Palestine and the Arab Student Union. Both of which will be participating.
She said that the Committee for Justice in Palestine is performing a traditional Arabic dance, called the dabke.
“We do it every year,” Amin said. “Our performance is always a hit. We want to expose people to our dance. We want everyone to learn more about it and see it for themselves.”
The Arab Students Union is collaborating with the Organization of Arab Students to showcase some traditional Arabic foods including salad, dessert and hummus. Amin sees Taste of OSU as a way to show her culture to others
“We wanted to make sure that people got to see our unique and diverse culture and taste our delicious and flavorful food,” she said.
Ndonwei highly recommends that students come to the event if they get the chance.
“OSU is a huge campus, and people should appreciate the diversity that campus offers. Sharing in the beauty and diversity of different cultures, helps open you up to the international community.”
Taste of OSU will be held in the Ohio Union from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
Armenian Students Association at their table from Taste of OSU 2015. Credit: Courtesy of Armenian Students Association.