Student: Sara Faradji
Class of 2013, Major- Global Studies
During the spring and fall 2010 semesters, Sara Faradji has been working as a research intern for a local project called Conflict Kitchen. Created by John Pena, Jon Rubin, and Dawn Weleski, Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that serves cuisine from countries with whom the United States is in conflict. Every four months, the storefront will rotate identities to highlight another country. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is enhanced by events, performances, and discussions about the culture, politics, and daily life of each representative country. Through food, wrappers, programming, and daily interactions with customers, Conflict Kitchen creates an ongoing platform for first-person discussion of international culture and politics. In addition, the project introduces a rotating venue for culinary and cultural diversity in Pittsburgh.
My interning duties at Conflict Kitchen have consisted of conducting research on the featured countries for the project. Our first iteration was Iran, and we have already been fast at work preparing for our future emphases on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Venezuela. Through my experience as an intern, I have been able to maintain a vast repertoire of local and international contacts with knowledge of the political and cultural atmospheres of these countries. I am continually amazed by how the wonders of social networking enable our organization to obtain fascinating personal testimonies with bloggers, student organizations, and various locals. It is incredibly interesting to comprehend international points of view regarding U.S. conflicts. In a sense, we are bringing these typically taboo topics directly to the table through a foreign food item.
Some patrons of the Conflict Kitchen take-out window solely continue returning for the delicious food, while others visit to engage the workers in interactive discussions. Regardless of the reason for approaching the window, we hope that the customer acquires a bit of knowledge about the political conflict and culture of the featured nation, either by means of discussion or through the comprehensive food wrapper. I am amazed by how much national and international press that the project has received since its inception, and I am looking forward to seeing its perpetual growth as I continue my internship.