Lindsay Benstead brought a piece of Thailand home with her after teaching there for two years, sharing a recipe for mango and sweet sticky rice a Thai woman taught her with the campus community at the annual Martha Cook International Tea Festival.
Martha Cook Residence Hall residents presented cuisine and culture from more than 20 countries Friday, giving visitors a chance to sample diversity through their taste buds.
“We can’t ever possibly travel to all these countries but we can learn about them by going to events like these,” she said. “It’s a rare chance to be able to learn and try all these different things.”
The theme of this year’s International Tea Festival was “Embracing Diversity, in Search of Identity.”
“Learning about others helps you identify yourself,” Ethnic Council chair Yumna Mackie said. Mackie said the event is presented annually as a celebration of culture and diversity and a showcase of the University community. Cultural presentations at the festival included an Irish Whistle, a Japanese drum performance, Czech polka dancers, Scottish dancers and Arabic drums.
Martha Cook President and LSA senior Angie Bur said she feels the event is a good chance to introduce Martha Cook to the community and to give people a chance to explore the residence hall, which otherwise operates under a strict escort policy. “This just opens our dorm to the community and reflects the type of residents who live here. It’s a chance to celebrate diversity,” Bur said. She added that if students had not taken advantage of other cultural events on campus, this was the one to visit.
“You get a window into many cultures and gain a greater appreciation for other cultures,” she said. “I think the message is clear, to appreciate and honor multicultural students and that’s what a Michigan education is about.”
Engineering freshman Tucker Berckmann said he heard about the event through e-mail and friends.
“It just sounded cool … you don’t get to drink good tea very often and free food everywhere … you can’t pass that up,” Berckmann said. “And I think it’s neat because it’s nice to be able to get into the building, which is really cool but normally closed off.”