On Monday, November 15th, guests gathered at the Hostelling International in downtown Chicago to celebrate International Education Week. The Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association hosted an interactive program that included cooking, eating, and cultural presentations. The evening began when visiting Fulbrighters welcomed fourteen Chicago Public Schools students from Orr Academy High School into the hostel’s kitchen. Teams of Fulbrighters and CPS students worked side-by-side to prepare dishes from the Fulbrighters’ native countries. The hard work paid off when participants joined guests in sharing their International Thanksgiving feast which included Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls, Nepalese Momo, Bulgarian Grape Leave Sarmi, Korean Chapchae Noodles, Camaroonian Kondré Stew, Hungarian Chicken Paprikásh, Ukrainian Poppy-Seed Pancakes, and traditional pumpkin pie.
Lisa Vázquez and Cristina Sisson, board members of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association, were the active organizers of the event that brought together the Fulbright community and high school students with the purpose of acknowledging the importance of international education and cultural awareness, as well as introducing visiting Fulbrighters to the spirit of Thanksgiving. Recent CPS high school graduate Cortez Alexander offered an after dinner presentation, during which he highlighted his own intercultural experiences and the value of learning about other cultures and languages in an effort to deconstruct stereotypes and promote mutual understanding.
Following the dinner and presentation, visiting Fulbright students invited guests to enjoy brief presentations about their native countries. Guests gained first-hand knowledge about the culture and landscape of Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Germany, Nepal, and Ukraine.
The special night was filled with authentic cross-cultural exchanges between Chicago students and international Fulbright students.. What better way to celebrate International Education Week and Thanksgiving!