Taste of Nebraska

Abel-Sandoz Welcome Center is pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Multicultural Awareness and Diversity Education Committee (M.A.D.E) will team up with local businesses to host Taste of Nebraska, an event where different cultural foods bring students together to learn about the history of Nebraska.

Scheduled for Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. in the Abel-Sandoz Welcome Center, the event is open to University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, faculty and staff.

M.A.D.E. is a committee created by university housing that provides programs throughout the year on topics of diversity and social justice, according to the website. Each academic year, the committee puts on six events with the hopes of educating students on cultures separate from their own.

Instead of serving a meal, the event will provide smaller sweet treats –– something you can grab before or after heading to the dining hall. According to Erron Reynolds, Schramm Hall resident director and M.A.D.E committee member, some of the items will be paczkis (a common Polish dessert), kolaches and a variety of cookies representing Russian culture.

“Basically, it’s gonna be a little dessert bar sampler,” he said.

The committee tried to narrow down the featured cultures by focusing on the five main parts of Europe that immigrated to Nebraska in the late 19th century. Though people from all over the world made Nebraska their home, Reynolds said the committee focused on Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia and Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Norway, as they play a major role in Nebraska’s culture today.

“The purpose is much more to learn about immigration to the United States from those five areas,” Reynolds said.

Rather than simply providing food for passersby, the objective of the night is to educate students on how those groups immigrated to the U.S. and ultimately made Nebraska their home. According to Reynolds, many immigrants moved to wherever work was possible and were enticed by the railroads and meat packing industry in Omaha.

“We’re really looking at the immigrant culture, what brought people to Nebraska, where did they live when they came to Nebraska [and] what kind of work they did,” he said.

Though M.A.D.E. has not hosted this specific program before, they have seen success with other “Taste of …” events. In previous years, they have done Taste of Islam and Taste of Judaism, which gave people the opportunity to learn about cultures celebrated by other UNL students.

“This is the first time we have focused on cultures that have shaped Nebraska immigration from Europe,” Reynolds said.

This format has been an effective way of sharing cultural information. The casual setting allows for mingling among the committee and students and an enjoyable night, instead of bombarding people with information, Reynolds said.

“We find this gallery and eating-type of experience to be an effective teaching tool,” he said.

M.A.D.E. was created to help provide UNL’s campus with an opportunity they may not experience in their daily lives, Reynolds said. While he and M.A.D.E. are aware most students wouldn’t seek to uncover the story of immigration to Nebraska on their own, M.A.D.E. hosts programs like these to educate and entertain those who stop by.

“[We try to expose them] to new ideas and concepts, maybe challenge some of their own beliefs and/or add to their knowledge base, to make them better informed,” he said.