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What’s unique about the Westgate Culinary Club?

January 31, 2012

Just like any other culinary club, members of the Westgate Culinary Club share a passion for food.

But what distinguishes them from others is that the idea of connecting with people brought them together. They use food as a medium to connect with people from different cultures. Yes, the club’s members come form different parts of the globe.

The decision to surrender themselves in the adventure of exploring the unknown has brought them face-to-face with their current phase in life. Moving to the US to accompany their spouses, who are pursuing academic programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has changed their lives in many ways.

Let me point out it takes courage to make the conscious decision to leave behind well-established careers and embark on the journey of traversing the unknown.

While adjusting to the new environs took some time there came a moment in their lives when they began to miss the busy schedule they were so used to. Some had busy days at school, others working 12-hour days at software firms and even others who were juggling multiple patients at a time in a hospital.

With their spouses spending hours at school and after school hours at labs, loneliness and boredom slowly began to strengthen their grip over them. Knowing that their visa (F2 visa in their case) doesn’t permit them to work or study in the US, the search began for looking for avenues that would allow them to battle their sudden isolation and change.

The F2 and H4 dependent visas doesn’t allow an immigrant to engage in full-time study or paid employment and sometimes both.

So the idea first hit Li Theng, the founder of the group. As an elementary school teacher in Singapore she was accustomed to a busy schedule. But after moving to the US she suddenly found ample time at her disposal, which she wanted to use constructively. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to engage in full-time study or take up a job.

She was struck by the idea of creating a club which would provide room for socializing. Food and the art of cooking had always fascinated Li. So the idea of starting a culinary club came in handy. The club would be a place to socialize, learn and grow and with that thought in mind she sent in a written request to the MIT Westgate Housing Committee. Once the approval came in, she promptly started spreading the word and within a few days the club was bustling with eager members.

The members of the club met during its first session held in October 2011.

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