Discovering world cultures through cuisine
Everyone eats! Cultural Kitchen is a fun and creative way to learn about another culture through its cuisine. In this program, food becomes the lens through which youth examine new places and cultures, and compare and contrast them with their own.
Using curricula developed by Hostelling International Chicago, and incorporating elements of the Peace Corps' Building Bridges classroom guide and the book Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio, Cultural Kitchen participants:
- Choose a country and explore that country's culture and cuisine
- Strengthen their ability to communicate with others and work as a team
- Experience the world of hostelling and travel
- Become open minded, caring world citizens who respect other people and cultures as they travel through both their own communities and the wider world
In learning about another culture through their cuisine, Cultural Kitchen participants gain cultural competency, exposure to the world beyond their classrooms and communities, and an understanding of what makes a healthy diet, and how food production and procurement, as well as daily family life, varies across different cultures.
Before visiting the hostel, participants choose a country unfamiliar to them to explore. The program's cultural learning exercises facilitate the development of cultural understanding, group communication skills, and an appreciation of the world and the people in it.
Participants express their newfound discoveries through the creation of an interactive and informative presentation, along with the preparation of a typical meal from their chosen country. The culmination of the program occurs with an overnight stay at a hostel where students share a meal from their focus country and dine with travelers from around the world, engaging them in an informative, fun presentation about their focus country.
The following morning, students reflect on their experiences and what they have learned, thinking about how they can use cultural understanding to benefit their community and our world. Students who complete the Cultural Kitchen program continue to demonstrate enthusiasm for learning about new cultures, and approach the world and its people with more open minds.