Food and dialog bring the community together

Members of the multi-cultural group, We Walk Together, helped unload the Manna Food Bank delivery to the Sylva Community Table, on May 16 2017. Photo curtesy of Gene Tunnell.

If you haven’t traveled to Turkey or any other Middle Eastern country, chances are you haven’t tried ashure and let me tell you – you missed something delicious.

Ashure is a Turkish delight that has a texture of pudding filled with dried fruits and nuts and was made by Berna Karayaka, lecturer at the WCU Chemistry and Physics department and native of Turkey. She made the dessert for the 20 people who gathered at the Cordelia Camp building on Sept. 28 for the meeting of the community group “We Walk Together” to enjoy food from different parts of the world and to get to know each other better. 

“We Walk Together” was formed to focus on intercultural dialogue and understanding, enjoy sharing traditional food (delicious, plentiful and diverse), participate together in various community service opportunities, show and learn how different people can interact peacefully and support international students, faculty and staff at WCU. Karayaka is a co-founder the group together with Julie Ogletree, a speech-language pathologist in Jackson County, and Amy McKenzie, adjunct instructor at Philosophy & Religion. The group was formed in Spring 2017.

At the meeting, Karayaka explained why she made ashure or as she called it Noah pudding. In Turkey, the reason for making ashure is to unite the community by making a large amount and sharing it with your neighbors, and the neighbors would also make a dish to share with you and your family.

For Malek Elzagadani, the group was a way for her to meet more people. She moved to the area last year when her husband started working at WCU. Originally from Libya, the area was intimidating and it was hard to meet people. She felt that people did not want to talk to her because of her religion and because she wears a hijab. When she started going to the meetings and participate in their community service projects it made her feel more a part of the community and gave her a chance to meet more people.

Larry Trautman, WCU Assistant Professor of Business Law, said he comes to the meetings because conversation between people of different cultures is important so that we can understand each other and try to bridge our differences.

The next meeting will be held on Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cordelia Camp Building in room 134. Come and enjoy good food and meet new neighbors and friends.