Experience interculturality firsthand

(Foto: Int.Ro)

Can you meet people from five continents in Thuringia at the same time? That shall be confirmed by students in Jena celebrating the International Days from May 10th to 24th.

by Stephan Herold

Every year in the summer term you can find a pavilion on campus. There, young people set out all sorts of breakfast dishes and take away the remaining offers. Besides buns, there are salads and fresh waffles as well as borscht (борщ), porridge, jiaozi (餃子) and ljutenica (Лютеница). Many of these might be unknown to local people. “In Brazil, we usually eat very sweet things. However, this here from Bulgaria is so tasty! Teodora has brought it from home,” a pleased student says.
Teodora, the student from Bulgaria, later explains why she is rather taking part in the International breakfast on the street than using the canteen next door: “When I arrived in Jena, I didn’t know anybody and I was missing to talk in my mother tongue, too. But some really tasty fare from Bulgaria I absolutely wanted to appreciate.” And Bulgarian food, a fellow student had given her a hint, ought to be found at this particular breakfast.

The way to interculturality is through the stomach
The idea of this event is as follows: every interested student brings along a dish from their home country and, by doing so, they enrich the international buffet with a further delicacy. Moreover, everybody can try the offered dishes and taste around the world. That way, everybody can not just learn about the food and drinks but also about the culinary preferences and customs of the others’ cultural areas. “Offering beef to someone from India can be almost equal to an insult,” explains Clemens Schäfer, one of the organisers. “Thus, in Thuringia we mustn’t be astonished if people reject the ‘Rostbratwurst’, as by far in a lot of regions of the earth pork is not eaten.”

Putting cultures in your mouth – not one’s foot
To display an intercultural sensitivity and to achieve the consequential acceptance not only whilst eating but rather in everyday’s social interaction, the members of the International Room (Int.Ro) organise the annual International Days. “We want to create a more international atmosphere in Jena – especially among the students. This is the only way to live tolerance and to comprehend why fellow students from a foreign country might have problems, which are not clearly visible at first sight,” says Susanne Bernstein from the team of Int.Ro. On many occasions, there is no ill will intended in acting wrong, but rather unawareness and self-consciousness.
That’s why the team of Int.Ro will offer various opportunities during this semester; to scrape together students from five continents. The International Days 2014 are recommended to everybody who is interested in this multifaceted topic. It’s not only the International breakfast out on the street but also country-related evenings, hiking tours and intercultural trainings, as well as an improvisational theatre performance to participate in, and the International concert.

Int.Ro is the department for intercultural exchange of the FSU students council and an umbrella organisation of international oriented  university-groups. It represents the interests of international students. The aim of Int.Ro is to improve the living environments of international students and to help in the intergration process of students from abroad in Jena. The team of Int.Ro is always looking for new faces!
More information: www.introseite.de | facebook.com/intro.jena


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