Just before the Spring Break, CAS group Makanai invited members of the local Karuizawa community to campus for a very special dinner! Makanai, which aims to provide full stomachs and smiles through the taste of diversity, came up with this idea to engage the wider community as they were experiencing difficulties in their initial ambition of starting a food truck to share food from their cultures. The event ended up being a 3-course dinner featuring dishes from around 7 countries! Makanai took the time to present on each of the dishes to give the guests a better understanding of the food they were eating, and also gave them a tour of the campus.
Vidya (Class of 2019, Indonesia) shared that initially, she was discouraged when sign-ups were slow and they did not hit the number of guests they wanted. However, the team banded together to make the event a great experience for everyone who did show up, and in the end, what mattered was that everyone had a good time. “We saw them chatting, laughing, enjoying the food, and the most rewarding out of all, learning more about us through food!”
The group also acknowledged that it was a different experience organizing an event for people outside UWC ISAK Japan. They were constantly worried (and excited!) about having to represent the school and their home countries. Additionally, Kitsho (Class of 2019, Bhutan) was afraid that if the event was a failure, then people might not want to attend their future events. These fears were unfounded, however, because once their guests tried the delicious food, they were all smiles!
“For some of our guests, we may be the first Bhutanese or El Salvadorian people they have ever met. In that moment, we have to be ambassadors for both the school and the country. Being used to the diversity on campus, it’s easy to forget how special our experiences are, and being able to share that with people not normally in an environment like that is pretty cool. My favourite moment came towards the end, after everyone had warmed up to each other. I was talking to one of the guests about her dog, and we were able to connect by showing each other photographs of our pets, which led to a conversation about families and death. I never expected to connect with someone in such a short amount of time especially considering our age gap, but it was a very humbling moment being able to empathise with someone so different from me.”
– Desel (Class of 2019, Bhutan)
Moving forward, Makanai is hoping to continue hosting events like these, perhaps off-campus! They are also planning to do a “food cycle”, where instead of a food truck, they sell finger foods and snacks via a bicycle.