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College hosts Embracing Diversity Fair online

By Alex MacIsaac
Second Year Journalism and Communications student and intern with Holland College Marketing and Communications

Food photography is nothing new to Ana Tran. So when Holland College announced its annual Embracing Diversity fair was going online because of COVID-19, she knew she could help.

The second-year Business Administration student runs the foodie Instagram account @ana.w.food. It features food from around the world, including some she prepared herself. She started it three years ago.

“It’s mostly east Asian food from Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, and sometimes some Canada.”

Living with a Canadian family for three years exposed her to a new world of cuisine, Tran said.

In the past, the sights, sounds, and smells of the Embracing Diversity Fair filled the Credit Union Café on the Prince of Wales Campus. Students shared traditional foods, dances and cultural activities with fellow students and staff.

This year, international students were asked to share cultural activities online with pictures or videos, using the hashtag #HCEmbracingDiversity.

Tran chose to submit a photo and recipe for fresh goi cuon.

“We all know the fried spring roll (goi cuon), but its fresh counterpart is a much lighter and healthier appetizer alternative” she wrote, “When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, most people think about a hot bowl of beef pho or banh mi, one of the famous Vietnamese street foods, but Vietnamese cuisine has much more than that,” Tran said.

The rolls contain slices of pork, shrimp, lettuce, mint, and vermicelli noodles neatly wrapped in translucent rice paper. Tran serves them with a hoisin-peanut dipping sauce.

The Embracing Diversity Fair has grown each year, said organizer and Holland College recruitment advisor Julia Clayton-Clark.

“It started out as a one day event where we would have international students make dishes from their home countries and people could come and sample the food and learn where the students were from. Over the past two years it’s turned into a one week event where we’d still do the food thing but also put on other activities,” Clayton-Clark said.

Last year students from India held a cricket demonstration, students from the Bahamas organized a dominoes tournament, and students from India and Nepal offered henna body art.

“We also had an international student showcase in the Florence Simmons Performance Hall to end the diversity fair. Our students would perform songs or traditional dances, or even hold a little fashion show.”

None of that was possible this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, so the staff in the International department came up with another plan.

“It’s such an important event to the Holland College community, so we tried to figure how best to adapt this to an online format.”

Organizers drew inspiration from Tik-Tok, a social media platform where users record short videos of themselves doing things like dance routines, comedy sketches, or cooking tutorials. Students have responded with enthusiasm.

“One student is recording a quick fashion show of her traditional clothing from India,” Clayton-Clark said.

“The excitement that surrounds the diversity fair, you can feel it. The students are so pumped to show off their culture and their food and the games they play at home. It’s a nice reminder for them of home, and it's great that they can share it with us.” says Clayton-Clark.

The Virtual Embracing Diversity Fair continues until March 26. The online event is hosted on Facebook.

In this picture; Foodie and second year Business Administration student Ana Tran shows the photo she took of goi cuon. Ana shared her recipe with students and staff at the college as part of the Embracing Diversity Fair.

For more information, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: March 23, 2021