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West Jordan Journal

Students get a taste of international cuisine and culture

Nov 07, 2023 03:58PM ● By Peri Kinder

With help from their families, students made food from different cultures to share with their classmates. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Howa)

West Jordan Middle School students tasted foods from all over the world at International Day held Oct. 5.

The celebration of food was part of a health class project. Students chose a country and researched it to find five facts and one traditional dish. With help from their families, they made the dish at home and brought it to school for their peers to taste.  

Lucy Jones chose to learn about the United Kingdom and its music and sports. Her food item was scones, which she made for the first time. Lucy Green made Indian samosas and Katie Lowe made gougeres from France.

Braelyn Oliver, who loves Greek mythology, decided to make Greek lokma.

“It’s not that hard to make, it uses very simple ingredients. They are these bite-sized pastries that are dipped in a really sweet syrup,” she said.

West Jordan Middle School health teacher Kathy Howa has six sessions of health classes, which means she had a lot of foods to taste.

“It’s really hard for me because there’s 35 kids in each class and they all want me to taste their food, and I’m telling you, I cannot take another bite when I get home, but I don’t want them to feel bad, so I taste it,” she said. 

Students and teachers look forward to International Day because once students in the class have sampled the dishes, they open up the tasting to other classes.

International Day is held once a semester.

“I teach half the year and then we do the same thing the second half, so we get to do it twice a year, and nobody complains,” Howa said.

Howa said International Day, a tradition that began five years ago, is a fun way for students to learn about different countries and cultures, and to be exposed to new foods. It also gets the students’ families involved by helping to prepare the dishes.

Some of the students, like Mike Fatiau, chose to make a dish from their own heritage. Mike made traditional Samoan dumplings called kopai.

“It’s a very common dish and it’s very delicious,” he said. “This dish means a lot to me because my grandma likes to make it for me. I love my grandma. When I was a kid, she would always make it for me when I came back from school.”

Howa said the students learn more about each other through the project.

“I, too, get to learn so much about each one of my students that I wouldn’t have known,” Howa said.

International Day is held during the nutrition unit of the health class required for eighth graders.

“All the other assignments are all health stuff and this is something they just get to pick and brag about what comes from their country,” Howa said.

For the rest of the nutrition unit, students learn about essential nutrients, healthy eating habits and the effects of specific foods and ingredients on the body. 

“They are very interested in it,” Howa said. “They ask a lot of questions and are very shocked when I tell them what different foods do to them. It’s really just so important that they’re finding out at an early age so that they are aware and can make better choices.”  λ