University students experience foreign Congolese culture

Jimena Pacheli
Staff Writer

Last Saturday at Scranton´s Cultural Center, several University offices and departments together with Terra Preta Restaurant, Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, Lackawanna College´s Culinary program, Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department and the Scranton Cultural Center hosted the Global Tastes of Scranton Congolese Refugees event.

The event´s purpose was to raise awareness about the situation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country from which many men and women have fled due to war, violence and political instability.

Global Tastes of Scranton required months of work and meticulous planning. As a result, the event allowed its attendants to become aware of the struggles these refugees went through and are still going through while getting adjusted to their new lives in the U.S.

Beyond raising awareness, Global Tastes of Scranton brought a glimpse of the lively culture of the Congolese people into Scranton. By sharing their cuisine, traditional attires, songs and dances, the Scranton community was shown how these people live.

Congolese beans, rice, beef and fish were part of the dinner menu, but pondu was one of the most exotic dishes that night. Made from fish, cassava leaves and some other vegetables, pondu resembles some sort of dip, which was eaten with dough that people had to knead with their hands in order to give it the right shape and scoop some of the pondu. Yes, it was completely allowed to eat with your hands!

To compliment the attendants´ short journey into the Congolese culture, some traditional dresses had been hung for exhibition. These were hand made, one piece, ankle- long dresses that were made of colorful fabrics. Moreover, a PowerPoint presentation was playing on a loop for people to see art from the Congo, which is currently being exhibited at Scranton´s Everhart Museum.

The attendants of this event came together under a banner of freedom, diversity and acceptance. After the dancing performance of Congolese girls and the rumba of Congolese men and women, everyone stood up to dance and celebrate the Congolese culture.

Global Tastes of Scranton was an opportunity for attendants to dive into another culture, into different meals, attires, music and dances and to become aware of the different and sometimes painful realities that the people in Africa and Middle East have to face day to day given to conflicts.

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