The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 26, 2013

DACC celebrates diversity with food festival

The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College will celebrate student diversity with an international food festival on Dec. 5. The college’s diversity team organizes the annual event during which students and faculty taste foods from other countries and experience other cultures.

The international food festival will be open to DACC students and faculty from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Laura Lee Room in the lower level of Lincoln Hall. Admission is free.

Dawn Nasser, coordinator of recruitment in DACC’s admissions and records office, said 13 international students are enrolled at the college this semester. The event not only raises awareness of the diversity on campus but also “exposes our students to new things and brings a little bit of the world to them,” she said.

Al Bello, DACC’s director of radiology and who also is a member of the diversity team, helps set up every year at the festival.

“I help out the best that I can,” he said.

Information will accompany the food and drinks to educate the festival goers about the countries from which the foods originated.

“Besides the food, we’ll have cultural information, too,” Nasser said. “Tidbits about the countries.”

Last year, 100 students and faculty came to the festival to sample two-dozen foods and drinks from 18 different countries, such as Croatia, England, Gambia and Mexico, she said.

“We have international students who you wouldn’t think of being represented in the middle of Danville,” Bello said.

Nasser said the festival has grown in popularity since it was resurrected in 2011.

“They were lined up, waiting outside of the room to get in,” she said. “We ran out of food about an hour and a half into it.”

Bello said he, too, appreciated the enthusiasm shown for the festival.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “The young international students really put a lot of pride into what they prepare and bring.”

He wanted to stress, however, that festival goers should plan to sample the dishes but not make a full meal out of it.

“This is a sampling, not a full meal,” he said. “It’s not a lunch. It’s a sampling and to come and talk to someone from a different country.”

This year, foods from Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and Slovakia will be represented — including a Chilean recipe Nasser’s grandmother is preparing — but Nasser also would like festival goers to try some additional foods from other countries, so she is seeking recipes from community members.

DACC’s culinary arts students prepared three dishes that were served at last year’s festival and could prepare some recipes submitted by community members this year.

“If we could have some other recipes from the community, that would be great,” she said. “Or maybe they could send us cultural or historical information about their country.”

Bello said he will bring a traditional Cuban dish prepared by his wife, Barbara.

“It will probably be black beans and rice because it’s really easy to make,” he said.

RECIPES SOUGHT Anyone with a recipe he or she would like to contribute to Danville Area Community College's International Food Festival on Thursday, Dec. 5, should contact Dawn Nasser at or 443-8755.