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TIMOR-LESTE GOES INTERNATIONAL: SHARING THE CULTURE AND CUISINE WITH THE WORLD
Posted on: 05 August 2023 BY: ASoares
Two years have passed since I moved to the United States to study. I have developed strong bonds with my friends and community members during this time. I enjoy meeting new people here and have enjoyed teaching them about Timor-Leste. Whether it be my classmates, professors, or community members, everyone genuinely enjoys getting to know me and learning about my country. I recall meeting a lady while camping with my friends. She asked me where I was from, and I told her I am from Timor-Leste. She responded, "Oh, I don't know where that is, but it sounds familiar. Maybe I heard it in the Olympics." She then proceeded to ask me several questions about Timor and me. She was delighted to meet me and told me she was fortunate to have met me, which made me very happy. We ended up talking for a few minutes.
In my first year, despite having a lot of interactions with people from different cultures here, I often still get nervous when people ask me, "Where are you from?" I get mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness because I have so much to tell people about our beloved country, Timor-Leste, and I want to give a good answer that is easy for them to remember, so I used to stress out in my first semester here, trying to put together perfect sentences to introduce Timor-Leste. Now I get better at sharing about Timor-Leste. I usually say, "I'm from a small island country in Southeast Asia called Timor-Leste. It's located between Australia and Indonesia." Most of the time, they don't know; some did hear about Timor in the news but don't know where it is geographically, while others have no clue about Timor-Leste; some, this is their first time hearing about this country. When my now good friends first met me, I was like, "Alright, buckle up. You're about to learn about one of the most unique and beautiful countries in the world." I always get excited to share about Timor. Since this is their first time hearing about a "Timor-Leste," I get a lot of questions from people trying to get to know me or some people interested to learn more about this small island country on the other side of the world. Most of the commonly asked questions are what kind of food do you eat there? What is the weather like back home? How do you go to school? What do you think about Colorado? What do you think about winter here? So far, I got a good impression by answering lots of these questions, making them interesting, and I showed Timor-Leste on the map to people who wanted to learn more.
In March 2023, I had the privilege of helping to organize and participate in a cultural event for international students on my campus called the World Unity Fair. The fair showcased the food, traditional dances, arts, and more of various countries. I represented East Timor, and my booth featured a home-cooked recipe that is popular there, called Koto-daan. I also displayed Tais, kaebauk, selendang, coffee, pictures, and videos of Timorese culture. Many people stopped by my booth to learn about Timorese history and culture. It was a hectic day, as I had to explain the culture, history, traditions, food, and so on to visitors and then serve food to those who wanted to try Koto-daan. Still, I had fun teaching people about Timor-Leste; everyone loves Koto-daan. The line to try koto-daan was long, and I ran out of food before everyone could try it. I was sad that some people did not have a chance to try Koto-daan. There were a lot of Koto-daan, and more than 150 people tried it. Helping organize and attend the world unity fair on campus was one of my highlights this semester, and I hope you enjoy reading this blog. I cannot express how grateful I am for getting the opportunity to share and teach people here about Timor-Leste. I met people genuinely interested in making friends with me and learning about Timor-Leste. Some have become my very close friends; we share, learn and grow together here in my university.