Cultural Café serves up insights into Russia and Venezuela

Kaitlin Siegel

Russian and Venezuelan international students showcased their country’s culture, history and food Tuesday, Oct. 28 as part of the Office of Global Education’s Cultural Café series on the Kent State Student Center Ballroom balcony.

Cultural Café is a free monthly event open to all students that allows international students to educate students on some of their native cuisine and history.

The Café began with a presentation by Oksana Verdernikova, a Kent State international student from Russia.

Verdernikova, a junior English and education major, said she volunteered hoping to break some Russian stereotypes. 

“People usually know very little about Russia,” Verderikova said. “And I think it’s because the relationship between Russia and the United States wasn’t very good for a long time.”

Verdernikova shut down stereotypes, saying it’s untrue that Russia’s climate is always freezing and that Russians are always rude and share a love of vodka. She did, however, say that the stereotype that many Russians are superstitious is true and that many have rituals surrounding the number five, which is the equivalent to a perfect score in America.

The Russian dishes Verdernikova shared included Blini, which is comparable to Russia’s version of a pancake, and Jarkoye, which is a meat and potato dish.  She said choose these dishes because they were representative of popular foods in Russia and they’re very tasty.

Next, the Café switched its focus to Venezuela.

Venezuelan native Miguel Arasa, a senior entrepreneurship major, said he volunteered because he wanted to educate others about his little-known country. 

“Not many people know about Venezuela here in Kent,” said Arasa. 

His presentation included an in-depth explanation about the history of Venezuela and how the country has helped many surrounding countries gain their freedom.

Arasa’s presentation also depicted beautiful Venezuelan landscapes as well as fun facts and famous Venezuelans with the audience.

Arasa shared the Venezuelan dessert bien me sabe, which translates to,

“It tastes good to me.”

While both Verdernikova and Arasa volunteered to participate in this month’s Café, some international students are required to participated as part of a class and others simply volunteer, Anuttra Promart, a graduate assistant for international student and scholar services, said. 

“They have to make a short presentation about their country and also provide a recipe for our chefs in the student center,” she said.

The next Cultural Café will be Wednesday, Nov. 19th with a focus on Tanzania.

Contact Kaitlin Siegel at [email protected].