Af-Lat-Am Potluck Brings Both Food and Culture to the Table

As soon as the food was uncovered, students and faculty filled their plates with plantains, rice and beans, and deep fried dough balls at the second annual potluck on Saturday.

“We brought [the potluck] back because, one day, I was talking with my friend Aliesha Jordan [’19] and we [both agreed] that we are really hungry for home food… I also talked to [Linda Carter Griffith, Associate Head of School for Equity, Inclusion and Wellness] and she said we used to have a potluck for AfLat-Am during Black History Month, so I was like, ‘Why not bring it back?’” said Abby Ndikum ’20, coordinator of the potluck and board member of AfLatAm.

The potluck, hosted by Af-Lat-Am at 5:00 p.m. in the Underwood Room this past Saturday, celebrated the beginning of Black History Month. The event allowed students to gather together, listen to music, and eat food that isn’t frequently offered on campus.

“My favorite part of the potluck was seeing everybody get together. We are all together on a normal daily basis, but this is kind of different because we all get to express our cultures through food, and I know it also helps kids who want a taste of home, and eating good food is always great,” said attendee Jordan Hempstead ’19.

According to Ndikum, faculty members helped cook a few of the dishes, a change from last year, when dishes were only cooked by students. The greater amount of participation and collaboration among different members of the Andover community allowed attendees to enjoy a greater quantity and diversity of foods.

“This year, a lot more teachers wanted to help out with cooking so a lot of the cooking was done by teachers instead of students. It was really nice because we had a whole two tables full of dishes. The hardest part [of coordinating] was just making sure everyone knew what time everything was starting, like what time to be there,” said Ndikum.

For attendee Denise Taveras ’21, the potluck was one of the highlights of her weekend because it enabled her to eat food that is part of her cultural upbringing and background.

“It is one of the most calming and reassuring things that can happen to someone on campus, especially when you are homesick and you don’t know where else to get the food. You just know that your friends have your back and make your favorite maduros. My favorite part was listening to the music after we all finished eating and just singing along to some of the songs.”

This event is one of many events scheduled to celebrate and honor Black History Month. According to Ndikum, the potluck and other events to be hosted by AfLatAm are important cultural platforms for the Andover campus.

Ndikum said, “Andover is historically a white-dominated institution… We need pieces of culture to remind us of back home, our roots, so we can express ourselves, especially since it is Black History Month.”