Festival offers trip around the world

More than 25 countries showcased at Iowa Central event

-Photo courtesy of Iowa Central Community College
The Focus International Festival of Nations was held at Iowa Central Community College on Thursday. Foods from different countries were featured.

Anyone stepping into the Triton Cafe on Wednesday had the opportunity to experience fun facts and flavors from around the world without leaving the Iowa Central Community College campus during the 35th annual Focus International Festival of Nations.

Displays from more than 25 countries were set up around the cafe and conference room for viewing featuring landmarks, facts, food, and other tidbits of information about each presenter’s country of choice.

Sophomore Ash Wacholtz’s country of choice for the day was Poland. She wore a handmade traditional Polish folk dress created by her sister and shared facts about her favorite aspects of the country from pierogis, a Polish dumpling, to Syrenka Warszawska, the Mermaid of Warsaw.

“I had the opportunity to spend about a month in Poland while my sister lived there,” said Wacholtz. “The four ribbons on this dress represent the four years she spent there.”

Wacholz said she also loves the legend of the mermaid and how the mythical sea creature became a symbol of hope and freedom to the country.

Iowa Central culinary students had the opportunity to use their skills and prepare samples of soused herring salad, representing Germany; tuna ceviche with orange, representing Mexico; and veal blanquette with rice, representing France.

Culinary student Cauy Hugeback said he and his classmates took inspiration from some of the dishes they have prepared for the weekly international menu nights at Willow Ridge.

“We’ve had herring and veal on our menus before, so these are smaller versions of that,” said Hugeback. “It’s been fun to create and taste foods from different countries.”

Ke’Waun Stone was inspired by a love of anime, which led him to create a poster on Japan and the various forms of the art, as well as Japanese food, language and culture.

“I’ve always been a huge anime fan,” he said. “I know a lot of students here with the same interest, so I knew they’d appreciate it. I’ve learned a lot more about the Japanese culture and food, too.”

Paulina Can, an international student from Mexico, presented on her home country and had a display of popular Mexican drinks and candies.

“I wanted to share my home country,” said Can. “I like teaching others the culture and who Mexico is as a country.”

In addition to the posters and presentations, Great Western Dining served an internationally themed lunch for all students, staff and guests which featured dishes from Mexico, India, Great Britain, and Kenya.

Countries represented at the Focus Festival included Somalia, Mexico, Bahamas, Zimbabwe, Fiji, England, South Africa, Brazil, China, France, Poland, Benin, India, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Argentina, Vietnam, Hungary, Japan, Ivory Coast, Norway, Costa Rica, Colombia and Uruguay.

“We’re very happy with the turnout today,” said Jessica Butterfield Bailey, festival coordinator. “It’s a great way to celebrate cultures and countries from around the world and especially highlight our international students and their countries and traditions.”


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