Students get taste of Ecuadorian culture

Danville junior Lauren Bailes signs the $150 Study Abroad application waiver that Clarksville, Tennessee freshman Mahesan Kumaravelu won at the Choose Your Own Adventure: A Night in Ecuador. Jake Pope/HERALD

Aaron Mudd

The savory scent of South American food filled The Fresh Food Company in Downing Student Union Tuesday night.

Aramark’s Executive Chef Gilbert Holts was one of many working to provide students with a taste of Ecuadorian culture. Holts described food as “kind of a universal language.”

“You know, we all cook the same food,” Holts said. “It’s just different kinds of spices, different kinds of seasonings.”

Students sampled exotic dishes such as seco de pollo, a dish featuring chicken, rice and plantains, and llapingachos, cheesy fried potatoes, at Choose Your Own Adventure: A Night in Ecuador. After dinner, attendees listened to a student’s Study Abroad story, tested their Ecuadorian knowledge in a trivia round and got the chance to win a Study Abroad scholarship, among other prizes. 

The event is just one of many offered by WKU during its International Year of Ecuador. This is the program’s first year. South Africa will be next year.

Andrea Cheney, coordinator of International Programs, said the purpose of the series is to share cultural experiences with students who haven’t studied abroad.

“Study Abroad is one of the best ways for students to learn about other cultures and perspectives, but if they can’t or they don’t have the inclination to do that, this is a way of bringing the world to them one country at a time,” Cheney said.

Louisville senior Gracie Peter shared anecdotes from her four-day trip into Yasuni National Park, which is a part of the Amazon rainforest. 

Peter told her story in choose-your-own-adventure style by asking students to pick what actually happened during her experience in Yasuni National Park from a list of choices, such as eating lemon plants and their guide putting a butterfly to sleep. After students voted, she would reveal the correct choice.

Following Peter’s story, organizers drew names of students from a raffle offering door prizes and a shot at a $150 Study Abroad scholarship to get the application fee waived. 

Clarksville, Tennessee freshman Mahesan Kumaravelu won the scholarship. 

“Now that I have this I might decide to do something with it,” he said.