ECE’s Culture Club brings the (virtual) community together

Each event is led by an ECE student, staff, or faculty member and showcases the different traditions, languages, food, crafts, history, etc., of their home country or region.

When the pandemic shut down ECE’s annual cultural celebrations, PhD Coordinator Kristen Thornton suggested a new event series to keep our community connected. With much of the community scattered around the globe, it was the perfect opportunity to learn about one another’s home regions and cultures, and so the ECE Culture Club was born.

“I love that our students are so open to sharing a piece of who they are,” Thornton says. “My favorite part of the Culture Club is getting to know about students in a new way.”

Once a month, an ECE student, faculty, or staff member gave a virtual presentation that showcased the different traditions, languages, food, crafts, history, etc., of their home country or region. Attendees asked the presenter questions on different topics, including recommendations for places and times to visit and foods to try.

You can learn more about the previous sessions below:

September: Japan
Host: Silvia Dykstra, ECE Events Assistant
Silvia grew up in Japan and her family is Japanese. She presented on the history of origami and talked about her experiences growing up. She also demonstrated how to make an orizuru, or paper crane, which is considered to be the most classic of all Japanese origami for it’s believed that a crane’s wings carry souls up to paradise.

October: Egypt
Host: Omar Abdelatty, PhD student
Omar was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, and he shared information about his country’s history, art, and languages, as well as and his favorite tourist destinations (dinner by the pyramids is fun!). For authentic cuisine, he recommends trying Koshary, Mahshy, and Mombar. While there are no traditional Egyptian restaurants in Ann Arbor, Omar recommends Palm Palace for a close approximation.

November: Venezuela
Host: Fanny Pinto-Delgado, PhD student
Fanny grew up in the city of Barquisimeto and attended a college in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. She presented on Venezuela’s weather, geography, economy, history, tradition, music, food and more.

December: India
Host: Ady Hambarde, PhD student
Ady grew up in the state of Maharashtra on the western coast of India for 22 years and then lived in Bengaluru in Southern India for about a year. He spoke about India’s history, diverse culture, traditions, future outlook, food, and more.

February: China
Host: Chenlan Wang, PhD student
Special Guest: Shih-Wen Wu

This Culture Club doubled as our virtual Lunar New Year celebration! ECE PhD student Chenlan Wang gave an overview of Chinese culture and focused on the Lunar New Year Celebration’s traditions, history, and more. We also featured special guest Shih-Wen Wu, who gave a food demonstration on how to make wontons.

March: Hawai’i, USA
Host: Christopher Okumura, Computer Engineering undergrad
Christopher was born in Honolulu and spent most of his life in the Nu’uanu neighborhood. He talked about Hawaii’s history, culture, traditions, food (including his favorite flavors of shave ice), best places to surf, and more.

April: The Gambia
Host: Demba Komma, PhD student
Demba is from Brikama, Gambia. He talked about the culture, cuisines, and general history of The Gambia and the neighboring region. He also talks about what brought him to the U.S. and where to find community in the diaspora.

Culture Club did not meet over the summer, but there are plans to resume the series this fall with in person events.