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Creating dialogue around the dinner table

Future is Fusion event

Food can be a source of numerous benefits, including improving your mood, providing a creative outlet and bringing sustenance and enjoyment, but sharing food with others can also bring understanding and spark a sense of exploration.

“The Future is Fusion,” a presentation and experiential learning activity led by Zia Ahmed, senior director of Student Life's Dining Services, was the first of a series of topics to be explored throughout the academic year as part of a partnership between the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of International Affairs.

Future is Fusion event

The goal of the “Critical Dialogue Series” is to provide programming that will deepen student awareness and understanding of critical community and global issues. The premise is for Ohio State faculty and staff to lead discussions on topics of local and global importance followed by a related activity, a field trip to a local community organization or Columbus neighborhood for enhanced exploration, or field-based learning and discussion with local leaders and community members.

Ahmed shared his experience surrounding food and its fusion to educate and inform students about the world in which we live and also stimulate dialogue about the many different cultures that we find in our everyday lives.

“We hoped that bringing students together over a shared experience, such as enjoying food, would help create a layer of comfort that would propel them to generate thoughtful discussions about their differences and similarities and a better understanding and appreciation for cultures other than their own,” said Megan Lawther, Global Engagement program manager at the Office of International Affairs.

Future is Fusion event

Throughout the presentation students explored how cultures, faiths, migration and agriculture blend together to create new ways to enjoy familiar and not-so-familiar foods, making it possible to cross cultures at the table.

To put what students learned to the test, Chefs Lesa Holford and David Wolf, along with Ahmed, mentored 16 students while they prepared fusion-style recipes in teams.

“It was very interesting and I had a lot of fun participating. The chefs were very helpful and everyone else was friendly towards each other,” said Aydina Azuddin, a senior studying international business. “Together, we were able to cook really delicious food using our individual experiences. I was in a group with different people who also had different majors. I learned many different perspectives from them!”

The second event in the series, “From 1969 to 2019: 50 Years of Black Studies,” will take place on November 16.