The History Behind the Colors (Holi Pre-event Write-up)

By Manasi Sathe, Global Ambassador of Penn State Harrisburg

As a senior who is about to graduate in a few months, when I take a walk through the memory lane of college, and notice that some of my most memorable experiences were attending global ambassador events. Whether it was volunteering during Latino Gala, hosting the Diwali event, participating in the Lunar New Year fashion show, or dancing for Holi, the amalgamation of various events has given me and all the students a chance to gain more knowledge about cultural diversity in the world. The Global Ambassadors program has expanded the horizons of many people, by allowing them to think in a cosmopolitan view through learning new languages and customs from around the world. Attending each event has made students more appreciative of the cultural diversity around them, while preserving their own cultural roots.

This year, I have the privilege of being part of the planning team for the 2018 Holi event. Holi, also known as Festival of colors, will be held on March 2nd, 6-9pm 2018 in the Student Center of CUB. It is a Hindu festival observed in Nepal and India at the end of winter season on the last full moon of the lunar month Phalunga. Holi is split into two parts, Holika Dahan and Rangwali Holi. The first stage is celebrated the night before the main day by observing a purification ritual in which logs and dung cakes are burned, representing victory of good versus evil.

Rangwali Holi is the main event, where everyone dances and throws a handful of gulal (color powder or water spray) on each other to signify the harmonization of people of all ethnicities with no barrier of language or religion.  Interestingly, the concept of colors originates from the legend of Radha and Krishna. The supreme deity fell in love with the goddess Radha, but she was concerned with their differences in color, his being blue. As a solution, his mom advised him to playfully paint her face to overcome their differences. Today, lovers continue this tradition to make sure their own faces match gulal.

This year, the Holi celebration will include cultural performances consisting of dances, songs, authentic Indian cuisine, and a chance to play with colorful powder in the courtyard. Attendees will be able to get the whole Holi experience and feel like they are celebrating in India. If you are an Indian international student that misses home and wants to relive your memories of Holi celebrations from India, or if you are a non-Indian student that want to learn more about the Indian Culture and history behind Holi, we welcome YOU to join us! Luckily, It is one day before spring break so all of us can rejuvenate before break and enjoy this festival together! Looking forward to seeing new faces at the event! For more events like this, visit our events calendar.

Note: All pictures featured are Penn State Holi celebration photos (courtesy of Penn State Harrisburg Global Ambassadors Program)


Welcome “Nian” in the United States: A 2018 Lunar New Year Pre-Event Write-up

By Yimu Pan, Global Ambassador from China

Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival and “Nian”年 in China, is one of the most important festivals in many East Asian countries. As its name shows, it is the New Year according to the lunar calendar. In the solar calendar, the commonly used calendar, Lunar New Year falls in the months of January or February, and each lunar new year is represented by 1 of the 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac – 2018 is the year of the Dog. As a Chinese person who has celebrated the Lunar New Year for years, I am going to introduce this fantastic representation of Chinese culture from varieties of aspects.

The Chinese word for Lunar New Year, “Nian”年, comes from an interesting story. A long time ago, there was a monster, Nian, coming out and eating people in a village on the New Year’s Eve. Those unarmed villagers had no way of defeating Nian. Coincidentally, an exorcist passed by and he knows Nian’s weakness, the color red. He told villagers to put up red paper on their front door, hold red envelope in their hands, and light up firecrackers. When Nian saw all the red around the village, the monster ran away and never came back. This story not only gives an eye-catching origin of the Lunar New Year in China, but also demonstrates the activities that we still do today. Red is the theme of this festival; People decorate their home with red items. The red paper those villagers put up is now called Spring Festival Couplets. People still hang them up by their front doors and they also have their wishes for the coming year written in couplets on these red papers. Red Envelopes (Packs) have been used for elders to give wishes to children. Red Envelopes are the children’s favorite because they always come with money inside.

Dumplings and Fishes are special foods eaten during the Lunar New Year celebration. Dumplings are also called “Jiao Zi” in China. They are the shape of one type of valuable currencies used in ancient China, which represents wealth. There is a story about the fish. People make a whole fish dish at New Year’s Eve but the fish is not meant to be fully eaten. It has to be saved until the next day. Such custom comes from a Chinese phrase 年年有余 Nian Nian You Yu (May every year ends with ample surplus). “Yu”余 pronounced the same way as fish “Yu”鱼in Chinese and “Yu”余 means surplus. This whole phrase means surplus for every year.

Lunar New Year is the time for family reunions. For financial reasons, countless number of people travel across half of China looking for jobs in cities to support their family back home. Those people work hard for a whole year and finally get a break during Lunar New Year. Millions of people travel thousands of miles to their home during this holiday. After the whole year of separation, they can finally see their children and parents.

Even in America, Many East Asian immigrants and visitors celebrate the Lunar New Year. Most common celebration is people getting together, playing games, watching performances and having a feast. These activities give people the taste of home when they are faraway. This celebration is much simpler than it is back home. However, the emotion that people hold for the Lunar New Year is the same wherever they are.

As an international student from China, this is my first year celebrating Lunar New Year away from home, and I can’t wait to watch performances and enjoy dinner at Penn State Harrisburg. This year, I am excited to be on the planning committee as a Global Ambassador to volunteer for this annual campus wide celebration, which is to be held on Friday, February 23, 6-9pm, in the Student Center of Capital Union Building. We welcome you to join us for the 2018 Lunar New Year celebration!

Note: All pictures featured are Penn State Lunar New Year 2017 celebration photos (courtesy of Penn State Harrisburg Global Ambassadors Program)

Diwali Pre-Event Article – An Outsider’s View

written by Irenitemi Famadewa

I remember, about four years ago, during my freshman year at Penn State Harrisburg, I had the amazing opportunity to be able to experience the beauty and joy of a cultural celebration that was new to me. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is a Hindu holiday that is celebrated in India, Pakistan, Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

My first Diwali, in Fall of 2014, was such a new experience for me. That year, I was invited to be a fashion show judge for the show. I remember getting ready to wear my first Sari (a traditional female garment that involves a lot of draping). The Sari I was lent was SIX YARDS long! I was so confused as to how to magically turn the fabric into the beautiful outfits the other girls had on. Luckily, I had the help of an amazing group of experienced Indian girls that made me ready for Diwali. Then I headed up to event and was amazed at the performances, the music, and the awesome food!

  • Consulting with Marcel, a former GA from Germany, about the fashion show.

Fast-forward two years to Diwali 2016. The Diwali celebration had grown even bigger at this time. In 2016, the event had over 300 attendees and multiple performances ranging from dance performances, musical renditions, a fashion show and good food as always. The student center sparkled with lights and brightly colored decorations that really captured the festival of lights. Last year, I had the great opportunity to participate in the Diwali fashion show where I wore yet another Sari with the help of my friend Taanushree and Nishi, two international students from India. The Fashion show participants were from all over the world. Each participant strutted down runway confidently because of how great the colors of the traditional outfits made them look and feel. It was a great experience of cultural bonding that showed that regardless of cultural background, the language of celebration is universal across cultures.

  • Traditional instrumental performance.

Looking back, as I prepare for my last Diwali as an undergraduate student, I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to the wonderful students, faculty, and community volunteers who have shared this part of their culture with me. Now, equipped with my very own Lehenga (a traditional India outfit), and a pair of Jumka earrings, I am ready to once again celebrate the festival of lights! I hope I see you all at our Diwali celebration, October 20th, from 6-9 pm at the Student Center. The event will be hosted by four Global Ambassadors: Pravallika Sanke, Ever Barillas, Tomi Famadewa, and Manasi Sathe.

Meaningful, Delightful, and Bright

Meaningful, Delightful, and Bright

– Moon Festival 2017 Pre-event Essay by Francesca Angeles

Every year, most countries in East Asia celebrate the Moon Festival – a mid-Autumn, harvest, and thanksgiving celebration held on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Lunar Calendar. From the name itself, we can tell that this festival is celebrated with a full moon watching over everyone but it’s actually more than that. It’s a meaningful, delightful, and bright event that brings together families even from different ends of the world. The Moon Festival, also known as the Harvest Festival, is mostly celebrated in countries and regions such as China, Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan, but the festivity is growing as people from different countries also observe the Moon Festival even though they are miles away from their homeland.

In a world where geographical boundaries are surpassed by the growing accessibility to travel, it is inevitable for us to see the Moon Festival celebrated all-throughout the world. I interviewed Dr. John Haddad from the School of Humanities and found that he used to live in China and Hong Kong for a total of three years, and he has found meaning in the Moon Festival as this celebration brought together families over a thoughtful festivity. The over 3,000-year Moon Festival tradition is meaningful because it served as a holiday with staying power – so much has become modern but this celebration brings a primal and ancient appeal that reminds us of why we give thanks to the blessings that the universe has showered us. In this day and age, the Moon Festival is observed by many individuals and groups around the world.

Professor Jingjing Cai, also from the School of Humanities, gave insight on the Moon Festival and why it remained a delightful event. As a foodie, her best memory of the Moon Festival is the moon cake. Besides being a delicious Chinese delicacy, its round shape also symbolizes the reunion of families. Eating moon cakes under a full moon easily reminds people of how much they value and long for their families and friends especially during this celebration. The taste of the moon cake is just as delightful as the thought that it brings to those who are reminded of their families during the Moon Festival.

I also talked to one of our fellow Penn State students, Evelyn Bai, who gave her personal insight on the celebration. As an international student, she has not celebrated the Moon Festival with her family for years now and it is really heartwarming to have our Penn State community celebrate the Moon Festival altogether. I love how Evelyn pointed out how the moon serves as the bright light that reminds people of the memories they have shared with their families when they were younger.

A lot of us came from different countries with different cultures and from different walks of life but the idea of thanksgiving and reunion somehow unites everyone especially those who are away from their families. The Moon Festival may be a Chinese festivity but it has become a universal celebration where we can all share a part of ourselves to others so we can make them feel that Penn State is a home away from home.

See you on the 6th of October from 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening at the CUB Student Center for the annual Moon Festival celebration! Four students, Francesca Angeles, Gexi Guo, Mizuki Yamane and Yukun Yuan, will host the evening program. The event is sponsored by Penn State Harrisburg Global Ambassador Program and the Chinese Student Association.

May we connect more people together and bridge friendships in this awaited event!


International Panel Discussion – First Event of the Semester

  • International Panel Discussion Panelists
Welcome new students, old students, and faculty and staff!!!

On behalf of the Global Ambassador program, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who attended the International Panel Discussion held on August 31st, 2017.

Professor Mohammad Ali, Assistant Professor in Management

The panel discussion was the first Global Ambassador event of the semester and we were pleased to have three professors join three of our outstanding Global Ambassadors on our panel. Our first panelist, Professor Mohammad Ali, from Pakistan is an Assistant Professor of Management. He came to the US to pursue his masters in the early 2000’s. He was able to give a fresh perspective as a professor but also as a former international student.

Associate Professor of Education, Behavioral Sciences and Education

Our second panelist was Dr. Martha Strickland, an Associate Professor of Education. She has taught English in several nations across Africa and Asia. It was a pleasure having her join the panel this semester as she was able to give international students a professor’s view on common problems they face in the classroom.

Siddhi Patel, Global Ambassador from India

We also had Siddhi Patel, a graduate student and Global Ambassador from India who was able to share her unique perspective on successfully completing a dual degree as an international student.

Tosin Adeyemo, Global Ambassador from Nigeria

 We also had Oluwatosin (Tosin)Adeyemo, a graduate student and Global Ambassador from Nigeria who was able to give advise to students pursuing a STEM degree. Additionally, we had  Ye Zhang, an undergraduate from China studying Finance and Accounting who was able to give advise to undergraduate students on the various resources the campus has to offer.

Ye Zhang, Global Ambassador from China

During the discussion, new students were eager to ask questions about changes in education, culture, and social life in the United States compared to their home countries.

Our panelists also shared their stories and encouraged all the students to have an open mind and to never be afraid to ask questions. One common advice the panelists gave was that students should always remember what brought them to Penn State Harrisburg in the first place and to never lose sight of the purpose. Overall, it was an amazing event! Special thanks to all the Global Ambassadors that came out to volunteer for the event. For information about our upcoming events, please check out our Events Calendar.


Throwback – World Fest 2016

by Irenitemi Famadewa

As we head over to the fall 2017 semester, we would like to look back at one the most exciting events of Fall 2016, the World Fest. The World Fest is a bi-annual event hosted by the Global Ambassadors and the International Affairs Association / Rotaract Club. The event is a showcase of the over 50 different countries represented in the Penn State Harrisburg community. The event started with a display board showcase of 50 different countries put together by students, faculty and staff. Each attendee was given a passport and had the opportunity to have that passport stamped at every display board they visited. The event ended with a parade of nations and an amazing array of cultural performances in the newly built Student Enrichment Center. To view more images from this event check out our Facebook Page and Flickr page 












Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Shared by Irenitemi Famadewa


4 Cups Easy Cook Rice

6 Medium Red Bell Peppers

2 Habanero Peppers

120g (1 small can) Tomato Paste

2 Whole Onions

6 Tablespoons Cooking Oil

2 Cups Chicken, Beef or Vegetable Stock (Water works as well)

½ Teaspoon Thyme and Curry Powder (Optional)

3 – 4 Knorr Chicken Cubes

2 Teaspoons White pepper (Optional)

Salt to Taste


Cut 1 onion into quarters and place into a blender. Blend until paste like.

Add the red bell peppers and habanero to the paste and blend thoroughly.

Pour the blended mixture into a large pot and boil until all the water from the mixture is completely evaporated and the mixture becomes paste like.

Transfer the paste and put aside.

Chop the second onion into thin slices.

Pour the cooking oil in the pot and pour the sliced onions once the oil heats up.

Let the onions fry until fragrant (for about 1 or 2 minutes)

Add the pepper paste, tomato paste, 3 knorr cubes, 1 teaspoon of white pepper, thyme and curry powder to the pot and let it fry till the oil begins to float to the top (make sure to stir to prevent it from burning). This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the paste is frying, wash your rice thoroughly till the water is almost clear and the starch is removed. Boil for 5 to 8 min. The rice should still be firm and not soft. Drain the rice and set aside.

Once the paste is done frying and the oil floats to the top, add the stock or water to the mixture. Cover and let it boil for a further 8 – 10 minutes. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed.

Add the boiled rice into the mixture and stir until the rice is completely covered by the sauce.

Add the remaining teaspoon of white pepper.

Cover and let it cook till the rice is soft enough. Occasionally stir with a wooden spoon (this prevents clumps), and add more stock or water if necessary. Don’t worry if the rice burns a little at the bottom.

Serve hot with a side of chicken or meat and fried plantains.



Looks Yummy!

Mediterranean Zucchini and Chickpea Salad

Shared by Joseph Marshall


2 cups diced zucchini

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

¾ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup chopped sweet onion

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup chopped Kalamata Olives

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup red balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic

1 red pepper, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper to taste.


Mix zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, feta, Kalamata olives, olive oil, basil, vinegar, rosemary, capers, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper together in a large bowl.

Cooking and Craft Event – July 14, 2017

The annual Cooking and Craft event was hosted this year at Anna Marshall’s home. Many faculty, staff, students and community volunteers came together to share dishes from their cultures and spend time with each other.

Attendees: Vanshika Agarwal, Vanshika’s Mom, Faisal Azim, Manoor Azim, Aman Azim, Dr. Anthony Buccitelli, Irenitemi Famadewa, Tomi Famadewa, Nakjun (Kevin) Jeong; Wenhong Luo (a visiting scholar), Anna Marshall, Jim Marshall, Joseph Marshall, Rayna Marshall, Carol Mellott, Amanda Moore, Chubo (Tony) Peng, Tony’s Mom, Eun-sil Yoo, Eun-sil’s husband, and their baby girl, and Fang Zhang

Dishes cooked: Nigerian Rice (by Temi and Tomi); Grilled chicken and vegetable sticks (by Jim); Indian Curry Chicken, Chili Soup, and Baked Beans (by Anna); Summer Pesto Pasta (by Rayna); Brownies, Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, Peanut butter cookies, and Mediterranean Zucchini and Chickpea Salad (by Joseph); Pani Puri (by Vanshika); Sweet & Sour Ribs (by Wenhong); Brownies (Carol); and Dumplings and Spicy Noodles (by Fang).

Dumplings – Chinese Recipe



Shared by Anna Marshall


Dumplings skins (3-4 bags from Asian Grocery Store; about 50 dumpling wrappers in one bag)

1 regular cabbage or 2 small cabbages, chopped thin using the food processor

1.5-2 lbs. ground turkey

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. ginger and garlic paste

1 tbsp. chilly sauce

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. black pepper

1tbsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. sugar

1 small bowl of chopped scallions (I did not have scallions last time, so I used one tbsp. chopped basil and 1tsp. chopped cilantra instead)



  1. Make Ingredients:

Mix all the ground turkey with vegetable oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic paste, chilly sauce, paprika and set aside

Chop the cabbage, add salt, black pepper, sugar and sesame oil

Mix turkey with cabbage

Spread chopped scallions and mix again

  1. Wrap Dumplings:

Dip your finger in the water

Moisture the edge of the dumpling wrapper

Add Stuffings

Wrap them with pleats and press hard to seal

  1. Cook Dumplings (Two different ways):

1) Boil water and then put dumplings in the water. When the water boils again, add half a bowl of cold water and wait for the water to boil, and add another half a bowl of cold water to cook. One more boiling and one more adding cold water, the dumplings should be cooked through.

2) Spray a tablespoon of oil on a frying pan and when oil is hot, add dumplings in the pan. Cook about 1-minute until the bottoms are brown. Add 1 small cup of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium. When the water is dried up in around 5-7 minutes, the dumplings are cooked through.

You can also check the link for images of making dumplings