Feast of Nations event draws a crowd at Coffman

The $6,000 affair featured food representing five ethnic cultures.

Bouncing to the sounds of Sean Paul’s “Temperature,” a deejay spun tunes in the corner of Coffman Union’s Great Hall as students waited in line to try different ethnic food catered from local restaurants.

The event, hosted by the Minnesota International Student Association, is one of the group’s highlighted events.

Anil Patel, a political science junior and president of the MISA student board, said the event is important because it helps MISA spread its message to the University.

“It lets people know that there are cultures around the University,” he said.

While the event hasn’t been held consistently in the past, this year’s success is encouraging the group to hold it more often, Patel said.

The food, which was served in phases, represented five ethnic cultures: Indian, African, Mediterranean, Chinese and Japanese. It came from local restaurants like Tam Tam’s African Restaurant and Bombay 2 Deli, he said.

“We actually had a lot of good responses,” he said. “People really liked the food.”

In order to fund the event, the group proposed a budget and applied for grants through the University, Patel said.

This year, Patel said he estimated MISA had budgeted $6,000 for the event.

Unmil Patel, a chemical engineering junior and MISA’s international relations board member, said the event’s success was apparent by the strong attendance, especially during lunch.

“Every time I would walk in, the tables were all full,” he said.

First-year English student Matt Hines and University first-year Natasha Hultmann attended the event after Hultmann saw a poster in Coffman Union on Thursday.

Though they enjoyed the event, both students said the poster advertising the ethnic food was misleading.

“It seemed like there would have been more food,” Hines said. “What we did eat was satisfying.”

They hadn’t been at the event long, which might explain why they didn’t get to try a lot of the food, Hultmann said.

Anil Patel said the restaurants had different schedules during the day, but the group hadn’t thought about advertising the times to the public.

“We kind of wanted people to stick around for the whole time,” he said. “We wanted people to try all of the foods.”

Besides the deejay, there were tables set up by the University’s Japanese Student Association and the Indian Student Association, which are student groups that work with MISA.

“Every time we try to acknowledge our cultures in one way or another,” Unmil Patel said.

MISA is a University student group that promotes different cultures and diversity on campus, as well as helps international students transition into the University life, Anil Patel said.

“Since we are an international organization, we don’t focus on one culture,” he said. “We try to get aspects from all of the cultures.”

While the group plans events to promote different cultures on campus, its members also work with international students who might have a hard time adjusting, Anil Patel said.

The group hosted a summer program that took international students on a tour of downtown Minneapolis, as well as showed them how to use the different bus systems, he said.

Anil Patel said planning was easy with help from Coffman Union and the Student Unions & Activities office.

“We had a lot of people show up,” he said. “I think we will be having more of these events.”