An Anderson University student struggled to shake a thick paste-like mixture from a ladle into a cup. With four quick shakes of the ladle, a glob of yellow-green gruel plopped into a cup. It was one of the demonstrations at the Heritage Festival held Friday at the Kardatzke Wellness Center on the AU campus. “This is all the African children get to eat all day, is one bowl of this,” said Matt King, a senior at AU. Elementary students passed by to pick up a cup and taste it. “Scientists figured out a mixture of corn and soybeans and other ingredients to make a nutritious meal. If people can only eat one time a day, it has to be nutritious.”
World Vision, an American company, sends the powder to Africa, where it is distributed, King said.
His booth on African rescue meals was one of more than 40 stops elementary students could make during the annual Heritage Festival at AU. More than 400 elementary students from area schools and 400 AU students visit the exhibits and demonstrations each year, said Scott Martin, director of the international student services at AU.
The hallways and field house were filled with booths displaying cultural items or demonstrating arts and music from countries around the world. Many of the booths had foods to sample from the various cultures.
“It’s open to all the schools,” he added. “We have six or seven that come every year.”
About 25 of the booths are from AU classes that participate, Martin said. It is mandatory for certain levels of the language classes. But the remainder of the booths are from individuals, dorms and other on campus organizations that see a chance to participate and share something they know about other cultures.
Residents of Dunn Hall, an AU dorm, adopted an African village with the help of Church of God members living in Africa, said Nick Stanton, a resident assistant for Dunn Hall.
“A lot of people will just throw money at something,” Stanton said. “We wanted to make a direct difference. So we got people to pledge a dollar a month to send to help support children in the village.”
The dorm members set up an African hut for students to explore. They built an imitation fire using red Christmas lights, a fan and yellow streamers.
“Hopefully they’ll remember this and maybe decide to help others sometime in the future,” Stanton said.
Valley Grove fourth grader Nigeia Simmons, 10, toured the hut and then went to taste the nutritional mixture provided by World Vision.
“It tastes like porridge,” Simmons said. “It’s OK. It wouldn’t bother me to have to eat it everyday as long as I have something to eat. It’s really sad that kids have to eat this.”
Valley Grove fourth-grade teacher Chris Chelli planned to go back to school and discuss what students saw and what they learned. He hopes they see how people from around the world wear different clothes, have different customs and might not have some of the same opportunities they have.
Chelli said, “This ties into a lot of the stories they are reading.”
— Avon Waters is a reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin. Story reprinted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.