There were spices and smells in the air as different meats were being barbecued and prepared by students in 17 associations and making 22 dishes along with several drinks offered at Food Fest in the Little Circle on Feb. 4.
The event brought together the community, students and faculty to experience different cultures and foods from all around the world. The event takes place once a year and approximately 2,000 people attended.
Lurline Nunu, BYUH travel manager and Laie resident, said she has attended Food Fest since 1973. She said Food Fest offers a great evening for all in Laie to come and mingle together.
She said, “Look around us at the different cultures. There is no place you can find all this culture. We are just all people who love each other.”
As Nunu was hugging her grandchildren and laughing with them, she said, “We feel safe with each other in the community. We are all together. Lots of family and kids want to come to enjoy the entertainment.”
Last year due to a hepatitis scare in Hawaii, the school had to postpone Food Fest. Nunu said, “We were sad we could not come last year.”
Corporal L. Miller, from California and a Laie police officer working as security at the BYUH Food Fest, said the environment is very safe on campus, so safe that it would most likely be fine without security. He said, “This has a special feeling here that you don’t feel at other places.”
Miller went on to describe how the food brought so many people together, allowing everyone to have fun, and share their talents. “It
is a heaven on earth. The students should recog- nize how lucky they are to get an education in this type of environment.”
There was a lot of preparation involved while planning for Food Fest. Allison Whit-
ing from Arizona and the director of Student Leadership Activities and Service, said that as an association, they wanted an activity to bring the community and students together in establishing an “ohana.” She said it is a fundraiser and the only way the student associations can raise money.
Whiting said, “We love it as a tradition and look forward to it every year.” She said it takes a lot of delegation, teamwork, and planning that it allows students to engage and create leaders. She said, “Everyone just loves the food representing several countries. We feel honored to be a part of the traditions of the university in bringing the students, staff, community, and faculty together making BYUH a gathering place.”
Students who participated in Food Fest talked about the time and preparation it takes. Lasarusa Tokona, a freshman from Fiji majoring in computer science and one of the students who helped prepare the food, said, “It was tough preparing things in time and cooking. I feel I haven’t slept for a week. To be honest, I never am going to help with Food Fest again.”
Mariana Goulding, a junior from Califor- nia majoring in business management, working as a runner for the event in case members need more supplies, said, “Fiji and Malaysia seem to always has a long line. I hope that [the food] is not all gone by the time I get off.” She also said how the Hawaiian Association seemed to be on top of it with its assembly line and pre-prepped
food. She said out of all the associations she saw, the Hawaiian group was really organized.
A sister missionary in the Honolulu Mis- sion, Tracy Lor from Califonia, said, “I love how this event is family centered. They even have the jumper for little kids. It’s a good way to not only invite the single students but also married students and families who are attending here.”
Another sister missionary from the same mission, Michelle Woo from Toronto, Canada, said, “I love how students are able to learn the different cultures and appreciate their food so they have a better understanding of how great each culture is. I think it’s a great way to get the community and the students together as well, so they really feel like this is their home.”
People interviewed said they enjoyed the diversity of tastes and differences in the cultural dishes.
Some attendees suggested how Food Fest can improve in the future. Rebecca Vigoren, a senior from Washington majoring in peacebuilding/anthropology, said, “We need more vegetarian options and more drinks.” She said she would also like see an Ethiopian or Middle Eastern Association.
A senior missionary, William Garff from Salt Lake City, Utah, said, “I like the food. There are lot of choices, which makes this event interesting and fun.” He added Food Fest would be better if there were “more variety of desserts.”
Arthur Chiona, an intercultural studies graduate from Zimbabwe, said the Malaysian shish-ka-bobs were his favorite. He also loved the ASL drinks. He said, “I feel like this is a really good thing for the students to show off their cultures. The community gets to come together as well so they really feel like this is their home. It’s one of those once-a-year things. He said he wishes he could do an African tent and he would serve Boerewors, a sausage that they eat in Africa.
Kern O’Riley, a senior from Ireland, majoring in biology, said the Fiji curry was
his favorite dish. He said, “It’s a good, healthy plate and you get your money’s worth.” He suggested that next time each associations gives out free samples for everyone to try and get a taste of all the different cultures.
Josh Jung, a senior from Korea majoring in TESOL education dressed in a military uniform and carried a giant sign that said, “I love Korean food.” If people shouted, “I love Korean food,” then they were able to receive a $2 off coupon on a bowl of bul-kalbi dupbop. Jung previously served in the Korean military along with all but one of the other students dressed up. He said, “I wore a costume so people can see the culture and diversity of this campus.”
Other students from different associations, such as the China Association, wore traditional Chinese outfits. Students from the Hong Kong Association said that one of their members was dressed as a character representing the sticky puffs they were selling.
Bill Liva, bishop of the YSA 5th Ward, said, “We love coming to this event and supporting all the students and the clubs.” He said it was cool that there are so many students from different cultures here. He talked about how expensive it is to go to school here so he wanted to support the school in any way he could.
Earl Chung, from Pearl City and an island tour guide, said he heard about the event from a cousin. He said, “There’s an excellent atmo-
sphere here. All I see is people hugging each other and laughing. This is awesome.”
Roger Zavala, a senior from Honduras majoring in business and the president of Latin
Association, said, “[Food Fest] takes a lot of preparation. The more prepared [you are], the more able you are in helping people to have a better experience. I feel grateful my team is willing to help. The best part is that they are my friends and we are able to work together.”
He said, “My favorite part was being able to share food from our own cultures and what we grew up with.”
Zavala said the people in his booth worked together well and they were able to sell out their food fast. He suggested they have more volunteers who can help next time.
Riley Weston, a freshman from Oregon majoring in computer science, said, “I was very excited for the Malaysian food because I served my mission in Malaysia.”
There were also a lot of talents and performances offered at the event. From singing to dancing, performers were able to share a variety of their talents. Weston said he was given the opportunity to perform for Hip Hop
Association. He said, “It was fun performing for everyone. I have never performed in my life.”
Nelson Loveridge, a junior from Califor- nia majoring in exercise science, said, “Being able to sit at picnic tables and watch the per- formances while eating was very relaxing.” He added, “It’s awesome and people love this.”
Students, faculty, and community members who were interviewed said they were looking forward to next year’s Food Fest and trying new dishes.