Michael D. Crump

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — As the doors to the Student Activity Center gym on the campus of Winthrop University opened, so did the doors to a new world of culture and learning.

On Nov. 15, the French Club hosted a French food festival as a cultural event for the student body.

The festival was not like most cultural events where students sit through a lecture while playing on their phone.

Instead, with a passport in hand, the attendees got to walk around the gym and sample traditional French dishes, including nut mixes from North Africa and French Canadian poutine.

“I feel like a lot of the cultural events, in my opinion, are geared towards certain types of people,” said Maddie Ewing, vice president of the French Club.

“If they are at a good time for me, then they are not something I’m interested in, or they’re not something I want to sit for an hour and spend my time doing.”

The French Club used the food festival to allow fellow students to come and learn about French culture in a way that was fun and relaxed.

“Obviously people like food, people like cultural events, people like free cultural events and free food. We thought, why the heck not? Let’s put something cool together that everybody can enjoy and everybody can learn a little bit from without having to speak French or understand French,” Ewing said.

Laure Mauffray, an instructor of French at Winthrop, said she was impressed with how hard the students worked on the event.

“I feel like they have to have all the credit on this,” she said.

French Food Station Picture
The French food festival offered food and information from many regions of the world, including those outside of France, where French is spoken (photo: Michael D. Crump).

Each club member focused on a different Francophone region, based on special interest or actual experience with the region.

Mary Morris, public relations chair for the club, manned the Marseille stand and she said the festival turned out better than she hoped it would.

“It was very stressful leading up to it,” she said. “But it has been fun getting to talk to people.”

Morris said even though it was “not something people are used to,” most students seemed to enjoy it.

“We really wanted to spread French Culture, and not just France as a country, but French speaking places, which is why we did Francophone places,” she said.

With close to 30 countries around the world that speak French, the festival was able to highlight the best of what those counties have to offer.