DENVER, Colorado – During the end of October, students at Wartburg West explored diversity and multiculturalism through food. Students take the required course IS 201 Diversity in Denver.

Food was the medium to experience and learn about the rich diversity and multiculturalism in Denver. Housing at Wartburg West is located on the campus of Johnson and Wales University.

The university has one of the top-rated culinary arts programs in the area. The dean of culinary education, Chef Jorge de la Torre, led the class on a food tour of the local area.

de la Torre also led the Spanish majors on a May Term outing in 2019 to broaden experiences of authentic Mexican food. Denver has high immigrant and refugee populations from Mexico, Vietnam, Somalia, Africa, Burma and other countries, according to the Denver Post.

The housing is located within blocks of authentic restaurants and food outlets from various areas of the world. In terms of food, students sampled salads, breakfast dishes, and lunch meals as well as different drinks. The students learned that not all “huevos ranchero” dishes are created equal.

Huevos rancheros is a breakfast dish consisting of eggs served in the style of the traditional large mid-morning fare on rural Mexican farms. The style of the dish depends on the geographic influence of the family making the food, according to de la Torre. Some Mexican dishes have coastal influences while others are simply comfort food.

A highlight of the tour was visiting the Mango House on East Colfax Avenue. The venue is a shared space for refugees and the local community to gather. It includes various food outlets and retail establishments staffed and owned by refugees.

Students sampled a spread of food native to Myanmar, Nepal and Syria. The intention of the course was to aid students to become more comfortable in environments and people with from different backgrounds, so by using food, the hope was to expand the students’ Worldview. In most cases, students could not read the menus or communicate in the language used at the restaurants.

Thankfully, the host, de la Torre, served as a bridge for communication. Although, the students quickly discovered that food can be an avenue of communication between cultures. A highlight of the class was talking to some of the individuals making and serving the food.

Hearing the stories about how their move to Denver, learning English in America and differences in cultural norms.

The class was impactful and challenged the students to step out of comfort zones, which is a goal of the experiential learning approach at Wartburg West. The tour of different food cultures is one of many experiences that is completely unique to Wartburg West.

To learn more about this subject and for inquires about Wartburg West, contact Gregory Lorenz at gregory.lorenz@wartburg.edu.







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