~May 28, 2014
I would have never imagined growing up in my little town that I would one day be sitting in a room with at least thirty people from all across the world, sharing stories, laughs, and food. Yet, there I was. It was the night of the Food For Thought Dinner that I had spent the past couple of weeks hearing about and watching Stephanie put together. I arrived early with Stephanie and Micah. We had decided that we would get there at around 5:00pm to set up even though others would not arrive until closer to 6:00pm. Set up went rather quickly so we went about making sure everything was accessible and easy for people when they arrived. A few people arrived to the kitchen early to cook their meals. One lady, named Justina, was had a lot of character and a fast talker. The three other ladies (two being refugees) were helping Justina out in the kitchen and learning about the rice dish she was making.
My main job at the event was to take pictures, and taking pictures is what I did. I started off with the girls in the kitchen, getting photos of their prep work as well as their finished product. While the girls were cooking and people arrived I took pictures of the dishes being brought out and the little cards with the descriptions of what the food was and what was in it. So many different kinds of food were brought and all of them tasted amazing. There were foods from Iraq, Nepal, Russia, and many other places.
While walking around and taking pictures I did not mingle much with people, besides those who I sat with when eating all the amazing food. I am not really one who does well with interactions, so just being able to walk around and listen to the way people spoke with one another was really great. When I did sit and talk while eating, I sat down with a lady who was from Mexico and her family, as well as Justina. Everyone was really nice and we had lively conversations about where we each were from. I learned about how the lady from Mexico ended up coming to the states and marrying her husband. Talking with Justina was also very eye-opening. She is a transgender woman who only recently decided to come out, and hearing her talk about her life and what it was like growing up as a boy, yet feeling like a girl, made me see things a little differently. Watching the way people interacted with one another, people from all kinds of places and backgrounds, really made me feel special. I felt like I was seeing the real America: the idea of this giant melting pot. I was able to taste and see all these cultures blended into a beautiful tapestry that was the Food For Thought Potluck Dinner.
~Elizabeth Office Intern with Iskashitaa