Making new friends always takes time but when you’re a student in a new country with a new language and culture, time can seem endless. Staff at Crowther Memorial Junior High School in Strathmore; understand that a student’s sense of belonging is largely built upon feelings of acceptance as an individual and as part of a community. It is this sense of connection that impacts the quality of learning and social life at school, so to support international students and help ease them into socialization with their Canadian counterparts, twice a year staff and students participate in a very special afternoon called International Café. This cross-cultural event is an opportunity for students to showcase enticing cuisine from their country of origin and share a piece of their culture with other students.
“Weeks before the event students carefully choose recipes that not only showcase the unique flavours and textures of their traditional food, but also requires them to use their skills in translating recipes to English including metric conversions, budgeting for ingredients and creating shopping lists”, says Linda Tucker, Associate Principal at Crowther. “This activity in itself is sometimes challenging depending on the language acquisition of each student but inevitably proves to be a worthy learning experience”. Once recipes are chosen and lists are created, students embark on a shopping trip to specialty markets in Calgary to gather all ingredients for their tasty fare.
Each international student is encouraged to invite their Canadian Ambassador (a Canadian classmate who served as a mentor upon their early arrival) to assist in preparing their meals. Students are excited to offer their hospitality and show their Canadian friends a piece of their culture through their unique dishes.
The atmosphere in the kitchen is light-hearted and there is plenty of laughter as students prepare their meals. Once dishes are complete they are labeled, laid out, teas are made and tables are set. At last it’s time for students and staff to sit together and enjoy each other’s company while discovering tantalizing tastes from around the world like Nigerian Chicken Tomato Stew and Gochujang samgyupsal (fat bacon with red pepper sauce).