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Lunar New Year

Our first ever Alpha Kappa Psi Lunar New Year was part of our organization’s goal to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion among our members. With such a large presence of students from different cultural backgrounds, this event allowed us to experience cuisines and traditions that are often practiced during Lunar New Year. Our event showcase dishes from all different regions within Asia, including Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Chinese Egg Rolls, Chinese Dumplings, Chinese Bok Choy sides, and Traditional Stir-fry.

The biggest learning opportunity was teaching other members of Alpha Kappa Psi who had not previously been exposed to Asian dishes and the techniques for making dumplings and egg rolls. From the meticulous process of perfecting the layering of the stuffing and sauces inside the egg roll to the steaming and frying process of the dumplings, members in our organization learned how to make these dishes from scratch. This was important because many of our members who led the workshop had been doing these activities in preparation for Lunar New Year for many years growing up. It was an opportunity for our members who celebrated Lunar New Year to share with all of our members their passion for cooking and their culture.

One of the most impactful feedback that we received during the event was that everyone was excited and curious to learn about the history of each dish. This included learning the names, origin, and function of different ingredients and tools that were used to make each dish different. As a result, we were able to not only educate people on the cuisine but also the history behind the dishes. This event allowed members to also share stories about their experiences celebrating Lunar New Year to shed light on the variation of methods to celebrate the holiday. We are thankful for BLI’s support in helping our members learn more about Lunar New Year and wish everyone a Happy Year of the Pig!

By Rachel Levine

Crunch Time Cooking Initiative

On December 1st, our group successfully launched our first event as the Crunch Time Cooking Team. We have been working the past few weeks in the Leadership Lab provided by the Barger Leadership Institute on a pertinent issue on campus we’d like to address through an advocacy project. Our group decided to tackle off-campus dining as this is a concern of many students who struggle with cooking and choosing healthy options while juggling all of the responsibilities of university life.

We partnered with the University of Michigan’s Cooking Club to co-host an evening filled with information on off-campus dining, round table discussions about common student experiences with food, and a cooking demonstration with healthy and easy tacos. It went very smoothly and we were so glad with the student turnout as well as level of engagement. In the first part of the evening, we shared vital resources we felt have not been adequately distributed to students, such as resources on where to buy groceries and how to properly prepare meals in advance for the week. We then distributed handmade recipes booklets and pamphlets for later reference so that after the event, students can still learn and increase their awareness on dining resources. In the next part of the event, we split students into groups to talk about their personal experiences, and to no surprise, found that many shared the same insecurities and issues relating to time, budget, and lack of knowledge. We want to hopefully use this information as research for future endeavors, such as working with Beyond the Diag to add information on their website. For the last portion of the event, we shared the South Quad kitchen space with the Cooking Club in order to add an interactive portion. Students had a chance to make tacos with tasty vegetables and guacamole. Overall, it was a great night and our team is very proud with how everything unfolded.

We did have some challenges prior to this event, however, we were able to overcome most of them. In the beginning, we weren’t sure how we could relay all of information in an enticing format that would motivate students to pay attention and to also want to spread their new knowledge to other students. We went back and forth with a powerpoint to a discussion to a blog. On reflecting on a BLI habit, we wanted to think big, but also think small with the constraints of the Leadership Lab. Our group is very pleased with how we found a happy medium by co-hosting an event. It took away some of the responsibility of event logistics and scheduling. We were then able focus on the execution of our all of the valuable information we gathered.

We also wanted to take a moment to thank the Barger Leadership Institute faculty, staff, and students for their support and guidance throughout this semester. We also would like to thank BLI for awarding us a grant in order to end our project on such a meaningful and impactful note!

By: Grant Dukus, Alexis Schachter, Ellie Grupenhoff, Nuzhat Choudhury, Irina Kopyeva