Feast of Nations
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55th annual Feast of Nations held at the University of North Dakota
The Alerus Center hosted the 55th annual Feast of Nations Saturday, Feb. 11, inside of a packed ballroom with a diverse crowd of attendees. The event was an opportunity to immerse oneself in a myriad of cultures through food and performance and to celebrate diversity right here in our Grand Forks.
The event began with a social at 5 p.m., where guests were given the chance to take pictures on a red carpet and peruse through the beautiful cultural displays where groups of various backgrounds were able to share their cultural heritage with guests.
The event was hosted by the International Organization at University of North Dakota. Guests were welcomed by the organization’s president and vice president: Camden Sasko and Dinusha Gunarathna-—from Canada and Sri Lanka, respectively. They were joined by Joe Vacek, the International Organization Advisor.
Two Masters of Ceremonies, Andre Washington and Erika Gallaway, introduced each course and talented performer while guests were able to relax and enjoy the event. Both Washington and Gallaway emphasized how much they valued their experience with the Feast of Nations.
Followed by the introduction of the masters of ceremonies, two important figures in the UND and Grand Forks community offered their remarks on the student organized event. Both President Mark Kennedy and Mayor Michael Brown praised the success of the event and the dedication of those who organized it.
The entertainment started with the ELITE Dance Crew, performing “Parade of Nations.” ELITE is a hip-hop crew with a global style based here out of Grand Forks. ELITE danced to the popular song “Children” by Justin Bieber.
The menu chosen for the event exhibited how diverse the event truly was. The meal started with Vietnamese lettuce wraps paired with a sweet and a sour sauce as the appetizer, followed by an Egyptian red lentil soup.
Following the soup chosen for the event, the guests were served a Mediterranean Greek salad while enjoying a new group of a performers. 14 different entertainers with very different backgrounds captivated the audience’s attention throughout the evening.
Groups like the Rozmai Ukrainian Dance Company, Fubiko Daiko, Afro-Fusion and the Flying Lion Dance Troupe came from very different backgrounds and each added a unique flavor to the event—much to guest’s enjoyment.
The entrees available to guests included a Turkish spice kabab with pomegranate relish on top of a bed of rice, or a vegetarian option—a Ethiopian cabbage dish. The meal was followed by dessert, with choices of Balkan cookies, baklava, and French macaroons.
Following the event, The Dakota Student had an opportunity to speak with Master of Ceremonies Erika Gallaway. Gallaway shared why the Feast of Nations was an important part of her time in college.
“The Feast of Nations has given me the chance to meet so many incredible people from different backgrounds,” Gallaway said. “I’m so grateful to serve as the Master of Ceremonies for two years.”
Gallaway praised the International Organization for their involvement.
“It gives me the ability to advocate for programs like the International Organization and recognize everyone involved for their hard work,” Gallaway said.
The University of North Dakota’s first Feast of Nations was held in 1961. Since 1961 the event has grown to be an important part of the Grand Forks community. The International Organization rightly gets the credit for how has continued through the years.
The time and preparation required to host such an event shows how dedicated the organization is to emphasizing the importance of diversity. A number of other organizations like HB Sound and Light, The Alerus Center and Folklorama were also involved in preparing for the event.
The UND International Organization’s mission is to enhance good will and an understanding of cultures within the UND campus and the Great Grand Forks community. The mission of the group is not limited to the UND campus, but rather to any individual or group who shares the interest of learning about culture and diversity.
Liz Kacher is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org