A Taste of Culture

A Taste of Culture

Tool Objectives:

  1. To learn about different cultures and groups through food.
  2. To gain an understanding of the many roles that food plays in people’s lives.
  3. To more effectively record meaningful experiences and reflections, and to see writing as a tool for cultural exploration and self-discovery.

Tool Description:

What we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, who’s at the table, and who eats first is a form of communication that is rich with cultural meaning. This three-part assignment involves an exploration of how food shapes a people and their culture. Beyond merely nourishing the body, what we eat and with whom we eat can inspire and strengthen the bonds between individuals, communities, and cultures. 

Tool Procedures:

  1. Ask students to respond to the question: What role does food play in people’s lives?  (Prompts: providing nourishment; giving an opportunity to socialize with family, friends and the community; transmitting culture; defining gender or family roles; representing symbols; giving a national or cultural identity; part of some superstitions).
  2. After discussing their responses, explain to students that there are many types of foods associated with different cultural and ethnic groups, traditions and celebrations that feature foods, and different rules about how and when people eat.  Foods and rituals help us learn about cultures and groups.
  3. Show students a series of photographs, video clips, cookbooks and so forth that depict the food of the host culture. Connect the images to understanding the host culture. 
  4. As a large group, in small groups or pairs, ask students to describe their family celebrations and daily meals, what food is served, how it is eaten and with whom, how similar and different this is from what you perceive as mainstream America and how this reflects the specific identity of their family and/or culture. What can be learned about the U.S. by analyzing its cultural patterns regarding food?
  5. Hand out the assignment and explain the overall goals and structure of the three-part assignment.  Review expectations and method of evaluation.
  6. Optional. If time allows upon return, consider hosting A Taste of Culture, a dinner in which students prepare dishes from the host culture and display their food journals, photos and other cultural artifacts. This would allow students the opportunity to share their learning with others and thus, broaden the reach of the course. This may also be an effective strategy for the future promotion of the course. Maybe accompany the evening with a film feature the host culture.

Tool Evaluation:

This assignment can be worth up to 25% of the overall course grade: 5% for the pre-departure essay, 15% for the food journal, and 5% for the post-study abroad reflective essay. Students’ responses should be assessed on their ability to demonstrate insight into the many roles that food plays in people’s lives.

Tool Time Requirement:

One class session (pre-departure)

Tool Author(s):

Adapted by A. Ogden, 2009 from www.pbs.org/opb/meaningoffood/

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]:
A Taste of Culture Handout

Mark Beirn


An experienced global researcher and administrator, Mark Beirn brings a critical approach to risk management, factoring structural racism and identity-based violence into his rubric for supporting equitable global mobility.

Specialization Areas:

– Global Risk Management
– Education Abroad
– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in International Education
– Health and Safety
– Curriculum Development


Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

Subscribe to Gateway Edge Newsletter & Spotlight Episodes

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.

Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.