Stories for Good: Celebrating Cuisine and Culture

Presented by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council

Friday, October 7, 2022
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
The Connector
Contact Us 
Keynote Address

9:00 a.m. in the Connector and via Zoom:

In her keynote speech, local chef Sabrina Tan will talk about bringing the food and flavors of Malaysia to Pittsfield, Massachusetts where she ran the popular Flavours of Malaysia restaurant on McKay Street for fifteen years. 

Her story begins in Penang, Malaysia where she recalls being shooed out of her mother's bustling kitchen. In 1989 she moved to the United States only to be wildly disappointed by what passed for Asian cuisine and set about learning to cook the authentic food of her homeland.

Breakout Session I — 10:00-10:45 a.m.
Growing Up Different in the South: Learning How to Overcome Bias | Erin Lynn 

Hawthorne 201 and via Zoom:

Come listen to an autobiographical story about the struggles of developing a social identity in the rural south and my journey through disengagement and derealization. Sharing these experiences will hopefully help others better understand our unconscious biases and the ways in which these biases can make us feel emotionally detached from our own surroundings. 

Story Circle: Our Memories of Food | Judith Monachina 

Melville 102 and via Zoom:

We all have memories of food. Our stories are unique to us because they are our own experiences.  They may reflect the influence of a larger culture, place, and time, but they are our personal experiences.  These stories connect us – simply because we can understand that we all have them –  and, at the same time, they reflect the unique nature of the experience of an individual life. In this story circle – which will be set up as a circle – members will be invited to share memories of meals, tastes, events, particular foods,  and meanings that foods have had or have in their lives.  It will be a casual discussion, moderated to make sure we all get a chance to talk and listen.  

Insights & Cooking Session with Northern Thailand-born Pathumma Bowen | Lauren Chagnon & Pathumma Bowen 

Hawthorne 204 and via Zoom:

Open your minds and hearts in this cooking demonstration and conversation showcasing the loving flow of Pathumma’s energy and insights as it permeates her cooking space. Pathumma’s history with the developing parts of northern Thailand and integrating in the United States will give people a diverse experience with someone who holds very strong spiritual beliefs and magic when it comes to life and food.  

Breakout Session II — 11:00-11:45 a.m.
Brazil, Costa Rica & The Berkshires Mixed Together | Lorena Souza, Mari Dus, & Sarah Blizzard 

Hawthorne 201 and via Zoom:

Berkshire Community College serves students from around the globe. As we work toward a more inclusive community, we find it more important than ever to connect with one another about our similarities and differences. In this presentation, we aim to demonstrate at least one way in which we can share some unique aspects of our own cultures, Brazil and Costa Rica, and how we seek to build a community that values multiculturalism here at BCC. Through a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, and English, we explore the importance of sharing our own identities with others and inviting them to share their identities with us. One of the ways we have felt supported in sharing our cultures is through the MADE Center/Multicultural Student Organization, and we hope more students will join us in celebrating what we all have in common: we are all different. 

Eating in the First Person: A Writing Workshop | Liesl Schwabe 

Melville 102 and via Zoom:

In this nonfiction writing workshop, participants will craft original personal narratives, spun from food memories, family traditions, favorite recipes, and other moments of cooking, eating, or chopping garlic. We'll explore the use of first-person narrative, sensory description, and social context in telling brief but vivid stories. 

Dining in the Dark: Experience Conferencing & Dining in the Dark | Alicia Starsja, Jessica Twing, & Berkshire Benevolent Association for the Blind representative 

Melville 212 and via Zoom:

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be visually impaired or blind? While the visually impaired and blind may not have their own specific cuisine, they still need to eat too. Learn what it is like to eat and have conversations without utilizing your most dominant sense of sight. This session will provide participants with a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity to see (or not to SEE) what it would be like, to be at a conference, and eat as if they were visually impaired or blind.   

Food as Cultural Heritage | Aaron Oster & Tattiya Maruco 

Melville 211 and via Zoom:

Join us for a conversation with BCC's new Food, Culture and Local Economy Program Manager, Aaron Oster (A-OK BBQ, Echo & Rig, Il Buco Alimentari) as we discuss the relationship between food, connection, and our personal and collective past, present, and future. 

Closing Session: Live Cooking Demonstration

12:00 p.m. in the Connector and live streamed at

Join us for a live cooking demonstration as Sabrina Tan prepares curry chicken and potatoes with nasi lemak (coconut rice) followed by questions and answers, and samples of curry and nasi lemak.

Often described as spicy and flavorful, Malay food utilizes a heady concoction of spices, herbs, and ingredients native to Malaysia, such as sera (lemongrass), curry leaf plant (fragrant leaves that gives curry its flavor), pandan (screwpine) leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. Fresh herbs and seasonings are also often used to create enchanted tastes and flavors. A combination of fresh seasonings and dried spices are normally ground together to make fine paste which is cooked in oil. Fresh coconut is also a common ingredient found in most popular dishes such as curry, nasi lemak (coconut rice) and rendang.

1:00 p.m. in Melville 301 | Boxed lunches for presenters, volunteers, and attendees from BB’s Hot Spot.

More ways to participate:

Please consider making a donation to the Campus Cupboard in honor of this event.

The DEI Council invites you to explore the Berkshires Welcome Guide.