Story and Photos by Colby Turner | Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee State University’s Japan Club hosted a Thanksgiving potluck last Friday where members in attendance were encouraged to bring food from any culture they wished.
MTSU’s Japan Club, which has been operating for nearly three years, is a club dedicated to the celebration and appreciation of Japanese culture and language. The club acts as a middle ground for American students to express their love for the culture, and it allows Japanese exchange students to meet new people with an interest in their culture.
For the club’s final meeting of the semester, the officers planned an international Thanksgiving potluck as an end-of-the-year celebration. “We thought it would be a great way to celebrate after all of our great meetings this semester,” said Japan Club secretary Caitlin Frontz.
“We were kind of overwhelmed with how many people joined this semester,” she said, “So we knew we had to plan a good finale.” The club’s Instagram advertised for anyone who wanted to bring a dish to bring a dish from any culture of their choosing, which resulted in a large variety of food.
There were various dips, entrees, and beverages from all over the world. Some stayed closer to American culture, like potato salad, while others were not, like the club supervisor’s okonomiyaki, a Japanese dish that is summed up as a ‘savory pancake.’
Other foods were brought as well, like cheesy dip, fried rice, and even gyoza. The beverages also represented other cultures, with one member bringing ramune, a Japanese soda drink where you must pop a marble down into the bottle to break the seal.
The snacks and sweets stole the show, however, with attendees bringing snacks originating from South Korea, Japan, and many other countries. “Our goal in the club is to show appreciation to Japanese culture, but many of our members love other Asian cultures as well,” said Frontz.
While the club ate their meals, they watched and listened to a playlist of Japanese music videos, all of which were recommended by members and compiled over the course of the semester. “I think music is a huge part of the culture to us as people who don’t live in it,” said Frontz, “So it’s been a great opportunity to help our members find more music they might like, since finding Japanese music could be hard for some people.”
The club’s supervisor, Ryoko Poarch, and Japanese professor, Fusae Ekida were also in attendance. “As a student studying Japanese, I think it’s fun to see my professors in a more casual environment, where we can talk about anything we want in either English or Japanese,” said Frontz.
The event was a success, and now Frontz is excited to see what next semester, her final semester at MTSU, will hold for Japan Club. “Spring is usually pretty packed for Japan Club, with things like the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival and our beginning-of-spring celebration of Setsubun, so I’m excited for it,” she said.
“It’s really great to see people get so excited about meeting up every week to appreciate a culture,” said Frontz, “Japan Club’s mission is to bring these people together, so they can appreciate it together, and I hope we’ve done just that.”
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