The iconic Himalayan mountains might be the first thing Americans associate with Nepal, but the Nepali Student Association’s (NSA) 2018 Taste of Nepal event Sunday will attempt to bring attention to the diverse regions that make up the rest of the country. Attendees will watch a series of cultural presentations based around a theme of geographical diversity 5 p.m. Sunday in the International Ballroom of the Bruce Pitman Center.
The 2018 event will be University of Idaho sophomore Samragyee Gautam’s second Taste of Nepal.
“I have had so many cool opportunities on this campus, but preparing for Taste of Nepal is one of the highlights of my college experience,” Gautam said.
This year, Gautam took on the role of dance coordinator and is embracing the challenge of celebrating different dance styles from Nepal’s main regions.
“When people say Nepal, they say ‘oh, mountains, like Himalayas’ … people think that it’s snowy and humid everywhere, but my first snow experience was here,” Gautam said.
To fill in the information gap, the NSA chose the theme of geographic diversity “so people will know that Nepal is not just mountains.”
“Nepal is so diverse, there are tons of ethnic groups,” Gautam said. “So, when you think of one region you don’t think about just one specific group. However, there’s one group or one dance that’s famous in each region.”
In addition to the dance performances, Gautam said attendees can look forward to singing performances, cultural presentations and a fashion show, in addition to the traditional food celebrated in the event’s name.
“Basically, Taste of Nepal is very self-explanatory,” Gautam said. “The highlight of the show is food.”
The food has been the biggest hit of the event for past audiences, Gautam said. However, this year the NSA is working to put together a “professional and really cool, organized show.”
“This year I think definitely our focus is to make the program more organized and to stay on our theme, because every year we try to have fun but we also try to send out some message about our country,” Gautam said.
Gautam said she hopes audience members will be able to take away a more in-depth understanding of Nepali cultural values, beyond “oh, Nepal is cool.”
“So many of us have put so much effort and energy and time,” Gautam said. “Our weekends are either go to work, or practice for Taste of Nepal.”
For second-year graduate student Nikunja Shrestha, the effort that goes into every Taste of Nepal event is something to look forward to each year. The 2018 event will be his sixth at UI, and he said that he has enjoyed watching the progress the event has made over time.
“It has changed a lot,” Shrestha said. “What I have noticed a lot is more people know about it.”
In addition to increased public awareness of the event, Shrestha said that he has also seen the team of Nepali students change and organize themselves over the years.
“There’s a lot of new students coming in,” Shrestha said. “Most of us, we’re not going to be here in the next two to three years.”
In order to ensure the longevity of the event, Shrestha said that the Taste of Nepal team is working on mentoring relationships between new members and experienced students who “already have an idea of how things go.”
“New students came up with the design on the tickets,” Shrestha said. “I’m really proud of all the team.”
Embracing new ideas is a strong point of the NSA, Shrestha said. “It’s our show. It depends on us. If (an idea) is going to make our show better, then why not?”
For the Nepali students at UI, Taste of Nepal is an opportunity to represent their culture and bond with other international students.
“We are involved as a team,” Shrestha said. “Even though we have our differences, we are always looking out for each other… I’m really happy with the way all of our members got together to work on the show.”
The NSA students’ strong team spirit and dedication promises to translate into a fun and informative multicultural event for UI students and the greater Moscow community.
“We’re all motivated by the fact that this is representing our culture,” Shrestha said. “That’s what motivates our team to get along. We’re rowing the boat together.”
Beth Hoots can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org