International Students Looking for a Taste of Home Influence Campus Menus
Kent State University Dining Services has taken on the responsibility of creating a welcoming environment in the dining halls for Kent State’s international student body, which represents 109 countries. The latest example of this involved a trip to a Hindu Temple in Parma.
The international food station in Prentice Café features themed events every other week, but an Indian menu had not been part of the rotation.
“We encourage all students to share their recipes so they feel at home,” says Marlene Maneage, senior manager for Prentice Café. “We talk to our employees and customers to get to know them and what they like to eat.”
During the 2016 Fall Semester, Maneage ventured with her international student employees to the Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple of Greater Cleveland in Parma. She explored the students' culture, food and lifestyle.
“Last semester, I had a larger group of students graduating, which was sad and nice at the same time,” Maneage says. “They told me it was time to go to the temple, and it was absolutely beautiful. I am fortunate to have the ability to connect with students and maintain long-lasting relationships.”
“From the temple experience, Prentice Hall is creating an Indian menu to be a part of the international station,” Maneage says. “We had nothing of that sort before, and we would like to continue to add new recipes as our students request them.”
Maneage says she has a sense of compassion with the international population on Kent Campus. The students who took her to the temple have touched her heart in many ways, she says.
“International students come to us with little to no knowledge of Kent State University and its surroundings; they have taught me as I have taught them,” Maneage says. “Our international students rely on each other for information and support when they arrive on campus. My temple visit made me have a newfound appreciation for what it is they go through.”
Maneage knew how excited her students were to share their culture. She found the different aspects of their religion and culture eye-opening.
Maneage says Prentice Café is working on additional little changes this semester. Students should expect to see new floors, furniture and games in Prentice Café when returning from spring break.
For more information on themed nights and food served at Prentice Café, visit the Dining Services website.