Taiwan Meets Charlotte in Food-Filled Cultural Exchange

Students from Fu Jen Catholic University (Taiwan) take part in a beverage class at JWU Charlotte.

They created blackberry, citrus and root beer ice cream flavors, but their favorite was milk tea. 11 students and two faculty members from Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan attended JWU Charlotte’s first cultural exchange program in August.

The customized summer program, developed by Dean of Culinary Education Jerry Lanuzza and Professor Piyavan Sukalakamala (College of Hospitality Management) emphasized JWU’s baking & pastry and hospitality expertise by integrating hands-on learning with classroom instruction, as well as field trips to various hospitality service industries.

“Your students (teaching assistants) here are passionate about what they learn,” student Yu-Lin Chen said. “They know what they want to do! Everyone is always smiling and friendly and always greeting us. They are willing to share what they know. They are kind and patient.”

Instructor Quientina Stewart, known as Chef Q, led a class on introduction to Western-style plated desserts where the group discussed using local, seasonal ingredients. Then the students shared a recipe with JWU for pineapple cake pastry, a traditional Taiwanese dessert.

"This is a chance to learn about different cultures, talk to their people and eat their food."

Chef Q said, “We covered all of the factors that go into making a balanced dessert. We used a lot of science and talked about making dessert profitable. And they LOVED ice cream day!”

The science included discussions of

  • how proper mixing methods, bake time and temperature all aid in a successful finished product
  • churning ice cream fast enough and at correct temperatures to result in a smooth finished product
  • what happens during the different phases of producing a finished product

Student Li-Chu Huang said, “This is a chance to learn about different cultures, talk to their people and eat their food. It’s the best way to learn about the United States and the differences between our cultures and education systems.”

The students were also enrolled in Senior Instructor Catherine Rabb and Associate Professor Sophi Sukalakamala’s hospitality beverage class that offered hands-on demos and lessons on wines, spirits, beers and coffee. When not in the labs, the Taiwanese students toured hospitality venues including Bank of America Stadium, Ballantyne Country Club, The Ritz Carlton-Charlotte and S&D Coffee & Tea.

Sukalakamala and Charlotte Campus President Tarun Malik invested two years in bringing this program to fruition. “It is a great opportunity for the Charlotte Campus to explore our academic and cultural exchange with an international university,” Sukalakamala said. “We hope to continue this experience and bring in more students from other countries around the globe — and not just limited to culinary and hospitality, but any program JWU offers. We can hand-craft the program for them.”

For Li-Chu, Yu-Lin and the rest of their classmates, this was an opportunity for global learning and acceptance. JWU and the exchange students shared new perspectives and made lifelong friendships, valued diversity and their differences, and discovered the world through the voices — and recipes — of other students.

The cultural exchange program offered an opportunity for global learning.