The SUNY New Paltz Residence Hall Student Association (RHSA) held their first Culture Festival on Wednesday, April 3 in the Student Union Multi–Purpose Room (MPR). The festival invited students to try foods from different cultures.
The culture committee’s mission was to bring a diverse group of students together and try a “taste” of different cultures which surround them here in New Paltz, committee members said.
The organization invited food donations from various local businesses including Mexicali Blue, Rino’s Pizza, Yanni’s and Asian Fusion.
Larry Ferretti, a third–year computer engineering major said food is the easiest and most traditional way of sharing different cultures, which was the reason behind their focus.
Ferretti also said the committee’s mission to deliver a form of culture to people “brings out the richness of people’s cultures.”
Various food representing cultures included jerk chicken from Jamaican Choice, quesadillas from Mexicali Blue, garlic knots from Rino’s and various rice and noodle dishes from Asian and European restaurants.
Haley Powers, a second-year history and international relations major, said she didn’t know about the event until she walked by the MPR and was told there was free food.
Although she said the organization could have benefited from better advertising, she was excited to try their offerings.
“They [the committee] do a good job in showing what’s out there,” she said. “I like to learn about other cultures and food is a door opener and a way to invite people in.”
Powers said she was happy to see European countries represented at the fair, as she said most of the time cultural festivals showcase more “exotic” countries.
Since not every student is able to try every dish in the area, the committee brought the town’s diverse food to campus, RHSA Campus Communications Coordinator Tara Ludwin said.
“I hope they [students] come out with more of an appreciation for different cultures,” Ludwin said. “Different cultures offer more than food and it’s something people will remember.”
Ludwin said she hopes the event will begin as a kick-starter for other cultural festivals to come in the future.
Because of time and budget, the organization was unable to find live entertainment like they hoped for, but Ludwin said that WFNP, the college’s official radio station, stepped in to provide music for students who stopped by.
Although the event didn’t go entirely as planned for the organization, students on campus were still pleased with the results.
Christina Mazzarella, a fourth–year political science major, said the committee did a good job with their event and the variety helped their mission.
“It’s not the typical cultures that you’ll see at events like this one,” she said. “It’s a more balanced representation.”
Mazzarella said this event is something that everyone can enjoy. Even if you don’t try all of the different culture’s cuisine, at least students benefitted from free food and socializing with their classmates.
“We’re college students, who doesn’t like free food?” Mazzarella said.