TCAT class celebrates Multicultural Day with ethnic food competition

The world consists of many different people and just as many different cultures, and in a country that often emulates such diverse, sometimes Americans come out and work to celebrate those differences in a way that highlights both what makes people unique and what unites them.

Alisia Miller has celebrated Multicultural Day with her students at Tennessee College of Applied Technology for a number of years, but this year, she said they wanted to add a twist, and they found one in the spirit of competition.

12 students worked on a special project in which they did research on their own ethnic background and prepared a traditional food dish based on their heritage. The results came from places like Mexico, the Cherokee, Cuba, Liberia and more.

“I have such a diverse class,” Miller, an instructor who teaches Administrative Office Technology, said. “I like the chance to appreciate our heritage.”

Each dish also came with a poster board display naming the dish in question and the cultural history and/or significance behind it.

The twist came in the form of a judged competition. Three faculty members with no connections to the students judged the dishes based on five categories: creativity, the information on the display, presentation, authenticity of the dish and overall presentation.

Ashley Vance, chairperson of the committee who put the whole event together, said the competition was to make the event more interesting.

“We wanted to do something fun,” Vance said. “Students will receive points based on how they rank.”

Third place received 25 bonus points towards their grade, second place received 50, while first place received 100 extra points.

Lourdes Hernandez said the true fun of the project came from the preparation itself.

“I enjoyed researching my own culture,” Hernandez said. “There were things I did not know. I did not know about the specialty ingredients I would need to add.”

Miller said the project brought people together with a shared knowledge.

“It is important to understand each other,” she said. “You can learn a lot, and this allows us to ask questions. It unites us as a classroom.”

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