When comparative cultures and politics sophomore Adam Harrison sat down with his bowl of soup at the Empty Bowls fundraiser Wednesday, he not only hoped to enjoy a meal with friends, but he also wanted to immerse himself in South African culture.
“(The event) gives people the opportunity to experience a different culture,” he said. “They’ll see that any given meal for them isn’t any more than a bowl of soup.”
Harrison and about 250 others attended the Empty Bowls fundraiser, which began at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road. The event, which was hosted by the MSU chapter of Global Youth for Education and Change, or GYEC, raised hundreds of dollars to help feed families in South Africa .
After giving a small donation — $6 for students and $10 for adults — those who attended received a hand-crafted bowl made by the MSU Clay Club to fill with soup donated by local restaurants such as SanSu Sushi and Cocktails, 4750 Hagadorn Road, Sultan’s Restaurant, 4790 S. Hagadorn Road, and Noodles & Company, 205 E. Grand River Ave. The fundraiser also featured African dance performances as well as readings by fifth-grade students from Glencairn Elementary School, 939 N. Harrison Road, who recently have been corresponding with South African children through letters.
Interdisciplinary studies in social science junior and GYEC president Leah Dodge said she was inspired to be a part of GYEC, a local nonprofit organization geared toward creating sustainable relationships with developing countries, after she studied abroad in South Africa and saw the many families who go without food.
“They don’t usually have enough food to even eat a meal a day,” she said.
Jim Lucas, the dean’s assistant at the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, which sponsored the event, said the fundraiser is about more than just the food.
“It brings the East Lansing and MSU communities together to raise global awareness,” he said. “It’s not just the meal. It’s the combination of dialogue, art and musical expressions that make it so special.”
Media arts and technology junior Annie Melcher, who also is involved with the MSU chapter of GYEC and studied abroad in South Africa, said the people truly deserve the help they’re being given.
“They’re coming from really difficult situations and an underdeveloped environment, yet the potential, ingenuity and creativity that they all have is really incredible,” she said. “If they had the opportunities that I have, I can’t imagine what they’d do.”