The arepa is the main Venezuelan dish, and we all love it. There is an old Venezuelan saying: “if there is food for one, then there is food for ten”. When we Venezuelans think about this saying, we imagine several arepas being made out of the same pastry. Which, by the way, is a very common practice in all Venezuelan households whenever family and friends come to visit. The thing is that the saying does not refer to the sharing of food in hard times, but the sharing just for the sake of it. Why? Just because that is how we are: friendly, lighthearted, and caring. Why are we talking about this you might ask? Well, because that is the side of Venezuela we wanted to show the IE community, and we achieved it thanks to the arepas.
But before we continue, first some clarifications: an arepa is a bread made of corn flour, which is molded as a fat pancake and then grilled. We can eat it at any time of the day, every day of the week, throughout all of the year. After it is ready, the arepa is filled with whatever the person wants, but the most loved fillers are: butter + cheese (all types) and/or beef and/or chicken and/or avocado and/or beans, etc. The more filled the arepa is, the better.
When we started our terms as IE Venezuelan Club Officers, we asked ourselves: How can we show a different side of our country than what our peers see in the every-day news? We were fed-up with being constantly asked the same questions about our country: “how are things in Venezuela? Is everything really as bad as seen in the news? How is your family doing?” Do not get us wrong, as responsible adults we were very concerned about the situation in Venezuela, and many of us dedicated a lot of our time to trying to make things better over there. Venezuela is much more than a crisis, it is simply a country going through a rough time, as most other nations have. There where so many things we wanted to share about our culture, our ways, and our country, but we did not know how.
What we decided was to show our classmates and the whole IE community the same Venezuela we had grown-up in, and loved. In order to do that, single events like parties were not going to be enough, we would also need to integrate the Venezuelan community into the activities, and keep a constant presence within the IE ecosystem. We wanted everyone to experience the core Venezuelan values which we held closest to our hearts: friendship, solidarity, and lightheartedness. Having this in mind, we decided to build a work schedule for the whole year with two big milestones: a Venezuelan stand in the IE Global Village 2018, and an innovation conference in Area 31. In order to make this work, we needed notoriety and resources, both of which we lacked. But a solution quickly came to our minds: we were going to gain both by selling the most beloved dish within the Venezuelan diet: the arepa. And so, the Arepa Sessions were born.
Looking through our contacts within the Venezuelan community in Madrid, we came upon the owners of “La Cuchara”, explained to them our plan, and quickly had them onboard. The plan was simple: organize Venezuelan dinners every two months or less for groups of 30 to 40 people, and show them the best dishes from the Venezuelan cuisine.
Five Arepa Sessions where done throughout this school year. 178 different IE students attended the events and shared a variety of different Venezuelan dishes, like tequeños and patacones (which we will not explain because this note is already too long, but which we encourage you Google, and try). For us, this was a resounding success. Also, the Venezuelan Club’s stand at the IE Global Village and its conference one month ago at Area 31 were complete successes. We were able to integrate a lot of people from the Venezuelan and IE communities into our events, without whom our goals would not have been achieved.
We really hope to have started a tradition with the Arepa Sessions, the Global Village Stand, and the end of the year conference, and that the following officers will follow it. All of this was done thanks to the arepa and to that very old Venezuelan saying, which reminded us that we do not need an excuse to share the best of us with our friends and family.
The best to all of you!
IE Venezuela Club