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Around the World in 80 Minutes

Therese Workman

Therese Workman is Senior Manager of Digital Content Strategies at ExpandED Schools.

A good potluck is always fun; there’s something about sharing a variety of dishes with friends or coworkers that brings excitement to meal time. But what if your potluck also celebrates you and where you're from?

The first-ever ExpandED Schools Staff "Melting Pot-luck" (get it?) did just that. The brainchild of Program Manager Jacques Noisette, our office colleagues were encouraged to cook up dishes that reflected their ethnic backgrounds or heritages. Jacques said, “We’re so fortunate to work on a team of people who have such strong connections with places all over the world. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed sharing lunch with coworkers, and thought that there would be no better time than now to celebrate our differences while exploring new flavors.”

And staff did NOT disappoint.

The Potluck Committee of staff volunteers transformed our meeting room with international flag decorations, balloons and a music playlist of world music. Chinese stuffed lotus roots, Indian chana marsala, Korean japche and kimchee, Dominican pastelon de platano maduro and Granny’s Western Kentucky Banana Pudding were just a fraction of the menu offerings. 

Senior Program Manager Natalie Colón chose to cook pernil, a traditional Puerto Rican dish of slow-roasted marinated pork shoulder, because “it’s a hearty dish that brings people together. I made it hoping that people could enjoy something different, while also incorporating spices they might find familiar.” 

“I was a little shy about trying Ethiopian doro wat and injera,” said Lizzie Murchison, senior research associate, who shared her own batch of skillet corn bread. “But I went back for seconds!”

“It was so wonderful to feel such comradery among the whole staff,” said Human Resources Director, Rebeca Benitez, who favored Literacy Manager Anjali Berger’s Indian dish of chana marsala. “You know, cooking for someone else can make you feel very vulnerable. But everyone was so celebratory and embracing of each other and their dishes. Everyone tried everything!”

After plates were cleared away, Jacques led a lively game of World Trivia, with staff breaking into small teams. “I had a good time with the game,” said Advancement Data Specialist, Devick Sellam. “It was interesting how each question actually had many possible answers, depending on people’s personal knowledge about different world areas.”

Even though it was just an hour and a half out of our normal work day, the benefits of sharing our food  -- while sharing more about ourselves -- will stay with us for a long while.





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