Mofongo Memories

Dear Tulane Community:

Onions aren't the only food that can make you cry.

Last Friday, I had the honor of hosting a lunch for Puerto Rican students who are spending the semester studying at Tulane while their home universities recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. In choosing the menu, we wondered if we should offer our new friends a selection of New Orleans cuisine or a taste of home from a local Puerto Rican caterer.

We chose the latter and, obviously, made the right decision.

The students literally cried upon seeing the food. "This is my first Mofongo since January!" They were not the only ones who shed a tear that day, I assure you.

"Food is so important in our culture," another student said. It was a statement that could have been uttered by any New Orleanian and was one of the many moments in which everyone realized how much the Isle of Orleans and the island of Puerto Rico have in common. Our experiences of nature’s worst – hurricanes and floods – and humanity’s best – music, food and family – are intertwined in wonderful and surprising ways. In fact, one student described Tulane as "our own little P.R. island!"

The students spoke with great emotion of their own homesickness and what it meant to be welcomed into the Tulane community. They also described finding great inspiration in New Orleans itself, a living example of recovery.

I thanked the students for this special occasion and for everything they have brought to Tulane through their strength, their scholarship, their enthusiasm and their hope for a brighter future. I am so grateful they are part of the Tulane community.