Culture brings large crowd to International Food Fair

Fernando Berrios, sophomore in performing arts, Jan Michael Lopez, freshman in aerospace engineering, Samir A’Agha Juarbe, freshman in veterinary science, and Sabdiel Reyes, sophomore in chemical engineering and french play Panderos for a crowd at the International Food Fair. Panderos are a drum very similar to tambourines and are often played at events and parties.

Liz Zabel

Due to such a large amount of people, the Great Hall of the Memorial Union had to be shut down for a few moments during the International Food Fair in order to avoid breaking fire code. 

“Last year we had to do that about three times,” said Kanchana Hettiarachchi, junior in civil engineering and co-coordinator of the food fair. “If something happens, people need to be able to get out fast.”

Although the amount of people at the fair was nearly breaking the fire code limit, this only meant good things for the student organizations and the International Student Council. More mouths to feed meant more profit. In addition to soaring levels of ticket sales, international students were able to share their culture with many people.

“This is what we’re here for,” said Sabdiel Reyes, president of the Puerto Rican Student Association and sophomore in chemical engineering. “This is why this club was opened, to let people know who we are … and we’re doing it in a creative way, bringing food and music, a little spice from Puerto Rico, to Iowa State.”

Reyes and a group of other Puerto Rican students including Francisco Murphy, freshman in forestry; Jan Michael Lopez, freshman in aerospace engineering; Samir A’Agha Juarbe, freshman in veterinary medicine; and Fernando Berrios, sophomore in performing arts, were playing Panderos in front of their table.

Panderos are similar to tambourines, and are often played for parties or any gathering in Puerto Rico. The drums are especially common during Christmas time. Similar to caroling in the United States, groups go from home to home playing Panderos for the holidays.

A crowd gathered around as they broke into song once again, playing a beat they said is used for a lot of traditional songs.

“You feel really proud of where you come from,” Murphy said. “It’s good to show your true spirit.”

Anna Prisacari, graduate student in chemistry and president of the Russian-Speaking Student Association, showed her culture in more ways than just one. Along with serving three different dishes from three different Russian-speaking countries, Prisacari wore the “festive Moldavian outfit of the young lady.”

Prisacari’s outfit was a vibrantly colored dress with an apron and was accessorized with flowers worn in her hair. The flowers, Prisicari said, show she is a young woman. If she were married, she would have to cover her hair.

Annie Feenstra, sophomore in performing arts, said the food fair is a cool way to experience culture.

“I like to eat, and I’m tired of all the … flavorless food we have here [in the United States],” Feenstra said. “Everyone is excited to be here sharing their culture.”