Feast of Nations showcases 53rd year of culture

UND performers incorporate traditional fans during Feast of Nations at the Alerus Center Saturday night. Photo by Jennifer Friese/The Dakota Student.

North Dakota is not often seen as the melting pot that the rest of America is known as.

In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a staggering 89.6 percent of the population is identified as Caucasian.

This can be an intimidating statistic to some, but the UND International Organization is looking to foster diversity in the state with its 53rd annual Feast of Nations, a multicultural event designed to break down the walls separating people from differing ethnic backgrounds.

Feast of Nations started in the early ‘60s as a small get-together where citizens from around the world brought traditional dishes from their home countries for others to sample. These humble beginnings soon blossomed into an event so enormous that it filled every corner of the Alerus Center Ballroom on Saturday night.

One of the most effective ways to take in a new culture is to try its native cuisine, and the Feast of Nations certainly lived up to its name. Guests were treated to a five-course meal with origins from Senegal to Sri Lanka, with each dish being more delectable than the last.

The night began with traditional baba ganoush and pita bread appetizer from Lebanon and ended with chocolate biscuit pudding from Sri Lanka.

“I really liked trying all of the different foods, they were all very fresh,” sophomore Taylor Blaine said. “I loved the dessert at the end.”

As the food was being served, more than a dozen groups from all across the globe provided the night’s entertainment.

The lively opening performance was given by UND’s very own Hip Hop Crew to an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd. Led by choreographer Eller Bonifacio, the crew gave a performance that set an upbeat and energetic mood for the remainder of the night.

“I hadn’t seen the UND Hip Hop Crew perform before, but I was completely blown away,” freshman Morrad Buttah said when asked about his favorite performance of the night. “I can’t even imagine how much time they must have put into practicing their routine.”

That is not to say the other performances of the night were any less exceptional.

Other presentations included traditional dances and songs from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and South Korea, just to name a few.

“This was the third year I have been here, and this was by far the best year I have seen,” said Rahul Nori, a North Dakota University System programmer. “There were (many) more performances than before.”

Several unique and powerful instrumental routines also were featured, ranging from a choreographed drum routine by the Manitoba Korean Dance Troupe to a spirited cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Ça Claque French-Canadian Folklore.

“It was great to experience some of the cultures I had never gotten a chance to before,” freshman Austin Holtz said at the end of the night. “I would love to come again next year.”

Brendan McCabe is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].