As a student, food is literally my life. I wish I was joking but food is how I bond with friends, how I cope with exams and what I use to wake myself up in the morning. I come from a place where the sharing of food is part of the celebration and is present in every get together. Refusing to eat food is considered disrespectful (not an exaggeration). This probably sounds familiar to you because despite the differences, the world loves food. For those privileged enough to have our basic needs covered, food is not just what we nourish our bodies with, but how we feed our souls.
This is why the idea of the Community Cooking Workshops is so appealing to many. They are by far the most popular outreach we as Health Peers host on campus, with up to 25 attendees per workshop. It seems like a small number until you realize people have been staying for our workshops on Friday evenings at SFU Burnaby when almost everyone else is desperate to start their weekend – so that is commitment!
As a Health Peer, I love helping facilitate these workshops. I get to meet lots of new people, many of whom are international students or exchange students and hearing their perspectives on what life is like in their homeland is so rewarding. I have met people from China, Japan, India, Germany and Netherlands, etc. from these workshops. It’s like a tour of the world in the middle of Madge House.
The Cooking Workshop Vibe
Now you might be thinking what do we do? Well the Health Peers plan some healthy recipes with the help of a Registered Dietitian from SFU Health and Counselling. We also buy supplies and help cook food. It is an extremely interactive workshop in which the attendees will do most of the cutting, peeling, mixing and baking themselves!
Examples of menu items we have made so far: Thai lentil curry, gyros, lentil tacos, wraps, quinoa brownies, oatmeal cookies and much more. Each workshop features a main meal, dessert, and drinks that are all vegetarian, delicious, and good for you. Recipes are always provided so that students can recreate the recipes at home. Oh, and all OUR MEALS ARE FREE at the workshop. Most of the food is bought locally or provided by Nester’s market.
The best part for the Health Peers by far is at the end, where we get to eat food because it means the end of another successful workshop (after washing a lot of dishes). Time and time again people have come up to us and told us how much fun they’ve had. Knowing that someone traveled far from their homeland to experience life somewhere else and you helped them have a good experience to take back home with them – it’s extremely rewarding!
Beyond the Blog
Stay tuned for upcoming workshops and watch for more events throughout the year with SFU Health & Counselling.