When the temperature starts to drop, students at the University of North Dakota can quickly warm up at the American Indian Student Services (AISS) with a hot bowl of soup.
Every Friday during the winter months, the AISS offers students and members of the community a chance to come together and enjoy fresh homemade soup free of charge.
These soup Fridays have become incredibly popular among UND students, as the event not only creates a chance for students to enjoy a tasty lunch but also allows them to interact with their peers while getting more familiar with Native culture.
Courtney Souvannasacd of the UND AISS expressed how important soup Fridays are for the students in the center.
“Coming here from reservations or smaller rural areas can kind of be a challenge,” said Souvannasacd. “Coming here you kind of face that culture shock, so we’re just looking to try to offer students peer support, cultural support, advocacy.”
Darlene Nelson works at the AISS and is the mastermind behind the tasty soups. She has been cooking soup every Friday for the past 15 years.
The main motivation behind Nelson cooking up her soup was to get students to stay around campus and to experience the comfort of home away from home.
“I have a mama mentality,” Nelson said. “The more people I can feed the better.”
On a normal Friday, Nelson cooks up to 10 gallons of soup. Nelson tries to utilize fresh ingredients and anything she has on hand. There is always a vegetarian and vegan option for students to enjoy as well.
Some of the soup selections offered throughout the semester include chicken wild rice, chili, vegetable hamburger and chicken and dumpling.
“Everyone is welcome. Students, staff, faculty and even the guys who clean the office after hours,” Nelson said. “I feel this event gives everyone a chance to be around the native students and eventually recognize faces here at the center.”
One familiar face at the AISS is president of UNDIA Gavin Nadeau.
Nadeau is a student worker at the center and has been working at the center for the past two and a half years. Nadeau usually helps Nelson with the soup events.
After volunteering so much time, effort and hard work, Nadeau feels a deep connection with students who come to the center.
“I realize how important this event is to a lot of people, especially when everybody is smiling and enjoying themselves,” Nadeau said.
“Students are usually stressed out during the winter months, whether it’s from the cold or midterms, Soup Friday offers a chance to just come in, relieve your stress and enjoy yourself for an hour or two.”
In addition to decompressing, the AISS Soup Fridays are all about creating an environment where students can feel comfortable and relax.
“When I think of the center’s main goal, it is essentially making this space feel like a home away from home,” Nadeau said.
Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to visit the center and eat some delicious soup.
The campus community is welcome to stop at 315 Princeton Street for delicious, homemade soup every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or until soup runs out.
“Who doesn’t like homemade soup?” Nadeau says. “Come meet some new people, enjoy some good food and good conversation.”
Amanda Hefner is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]