Decolonization and Belonging Through the Power of Food

Images of quesadillas, mortar & pestle, and mole. Text of event announcement.

Event Date

International House Davis, 10 College Park

Imagining America Presents

Decolonization and Belonging Through the Power of Food

Join Imagining America for a free community event involving a dialogue and tasting menu with Central Valley immigrant and refugee community culinary leaders. The invited chefs will prepare food to share and engage participants in a conversation about the community building power of food.
This event is inspired by the themes of the UC Davis Campus Community Book Project. Please see the attached flyer for more information.
We thank our co-sponsor, International House Davis, and community partner, The Pan Valley Institute of The American Friends Service Committee!

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Special Guests

 Nour Al Mshantaf was born is Homs, Syria in 1978, the eldest of four children. Her parents raised her to be a strong, confident woman capable of making her own decisions. She grew up loving to learn in a diverse city rich with history that embraced culture and religion. The women in Nour’s family taught her how to cook, and it became her favorite hobby. She loves trying new things and inventing her own secret recipes. She hopes to turn her love for cooking into a successful business. After high school, Nour married Thafer Kashak, whose family ran a tahini factory. The couple has a son and two daughters. The family was forced to leave their home in 2012 after war broke out in Syria, fleeing first to Damascus and then to Jordan Upon arrivingin the United States, Nour faced many fears, including language barriers, cultural differences, learning to drive, finding a job, and discovering how to be an independent woman. Raising a Muslim family during an Islamophobic time in the U.S. is not without its challenges, but she remains committed to raising her children to be proud of their culture and Syrian-Muslim identity.

Rosa Hernandez was born in Santiago Juxtlahuaca, and is proud to speak Mixteco Alto, her native language. Since she immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago, she has raised four children and worked in the fields, yet still made time to be involved in a number of community organizing activities. She spearheaded the foundation of the folkloric group See Savi to teach young people the music and traditional dances of Oaxaca. Joined by other Mexican and Hmong indigenous women, Rosa lead a grassroots organizing group aimed at highlighting the presence and contributions of immigrant women throughout the Central Valley.

Myrna Martinez Nateras is the program director for Fresno’s Pan Valley Institute (PVI). A project of the American Friends Service Committee, Myrna helped launch PVI in 1998 with the goal of providing a place where the Central Valley’s immigrants and refugees can gather to build community and learn to become leaders in their communities. Over two decades, Myrna has grown PVI from a one-person operation to a popular educational institution that practices a unique cultural organizing model that includes an intercultural learning process that encompasses understanding, respect for differences and engagement in collaborative and creative community building. Having been born in Tuxpan Michoacán, Mexico, Myrna understands the plight of immigrants and has dedicated her experience as a popular educator and participatory research practitioner to helping the Central Valley’s immigrants become active citizens and leaders. She attended the University of Bucharest, Rumania, where she graduated from the school of philosophy and sociology.