Planning a Cultural F&B Event: The Dumpling Event
This is my first semester at Glion and my first experience with overseas education, so everything is still fresh and will probably continue to be fresh and surprising for quite some time. So far, I have met the most amazing people, I have experienced precious events, and I have organized one very memorable activity: The Dumpling Event.
Our dumpling event has taught me things that could never be learned in traditional classes. On February 5th 2015, a group of 7 people gathered in my little, warm family-like dorm and we discussed plans for our Chinese New Year Party. Dumplings, which are the traditional Chinese New Year food, should definitely be prepared in the New Year. But we were not satisfied with enjoying these delights only amongst our Chinese friends. We were eager to share all this Chinese stuff with our international classmates in this multi-cultural environment.
Before the Event
To get the word out, we used the school email accounts, which was actually one of the best ways to advertise our project. We encourage students to take part in the event by flaunting its merits (ex. special food from China, having a genuine taste, delicious dumplings…etc.).
To organize the duties and tasks of each person, we made a schedule based on everyone’s timetable and each of us was clear about what he/she needed to do and when to do it. We bought the raw materials and made the dumplings all by hand, so it took time. As we had different classes and different timetables, only 2-3 people could gather to make dumplings everyday during the “Dumpling Week”. Anyone who had some free time would go to the market and buy the necessary materials in advance, so supply issues never happened.
We also had to make tough decisions sometimes. Two of our team members were debating whether we should make various forms of dumplings or not. We voted for that, but finally decided that we could only make one form of dumplings; it took too much time to create different shapes.
We listed everything we need for the dumplings, and always double-checked in order to avoid accidents. We bought more materials than we actually needed but that was actually not a waste because we also made them for ourselves.
More than half of the team members knew exactly how to make dumplings (including kneading the dough, cutting meat etc.), so it was not that hard for us to put it into action. We planned well, advertised properly, and had a suitable number of orders according to our expectations. Fortunately, most things went to plan. Except for sometimes, there were accidents that caused us redo the dumplings (ex: dumplings dropped on the floor, wrongly mixed up the stuffing, mistakes on the flavours customers asked for).
During the Event
The Dumpling Event was held over 4 days, and we asked students to give us feedback on the flavours, service (we provided “room service”, free deliver to the dormitory) and any other suggestions. Most of the feedback was positive. However, some of the students wanted flavours that weren’t offered at the moment. So we took note and to have those special requests in mind for the next time.
We did face some customer service challenges. For example, we got a student who ordered a box of beef dumplings but who did not like them because they contained onions. When I delivered that box of dumplings to the dorm, I let her have a taste. It was our team rule: the “customer” should taste first, so we leave assured of their satisfaction. In this case, the girl had a strong reaction so I asked if there’s any problem with the flavour and I was told that she hates onions. It was true that we did not mention on the menu that the beef stuffing contained onions. I felt bad and decided to call a team member to make another box without onions. The girl was very nice and she told me not to waste them, so she gave it to her friend. I expressed my sincere regret for the problem and even compensated her with an extra box of dumplings on the second day. Although, I did not expect this problem, at least we found a solution that was timely and responsible.
Overall, the event accomplished its objectives brilliantly: students and teachers got the chance to a taste some genuine Chinese dumplings. They were surprised when they saw our posters because a lot of westerners have never tasted or even seen the real stuff before. Multicultural learning relates to many aspects, and food is definitely one of them. We promoted a good vision of Chinese traditional food and catered to the needs of our fellow students.
As I planned the Dumpling Event, I wanted Asians to jump out and do something for the school, so all the team members were Chinese. When I mentioned this idea for the first time, one of my friends got excited immediately while others felt that it would be too much work and it might impact our academic studies. However, I insisted that China is a unique nation and we should show it to this multicultural school and our foreign friends. So 7 of us finally decided to make it our mission.
All in all, they enjoyed it and we loved it. Thanks Glion, for giving us the chance to share our Chinese culture!