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Campus Kitchen: Student Experience

Student in front of chalk board at farmers market
Campus Kitchen Student Employee, Chouneng (’22).

This entry is from Chouneng Khang, a Campus Kitchen student employee.  If you would like to support Campus Kitchen’s work, feel free to donate through Augsburg’s donation page. You can designate your donation to Other>Campus Kitchen.

 

Nyob Zoo and hello! My name is Chouneng Khang. I go by the pronouns He/Him/His and I am a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major with a Communications Minor. Today’s topic is my experience working with Campus Kitchen.

I’ve spent two years so far working with Campus Kitchen, and during that time I have learned quite a bit– especially about stepping out of my comfort zone and about the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.  I’ve also learned about the different communities and groups around and within the Cedar- Riverside neighborhood, such as the Soup-For-You Program that hosts free lunches for anyone. They even provide clothing donations for people who need clothes. 

I’ve always been a bubbly, talkative person who likes to ramble on and on about things.  However, when I started working with Campus Kitchen during my first year of college, all that bubbly, talkative energy had gone away.  I had to build it back up.  That’s where my involvement in Campus Kitchen comes in. Through my work with Campus Kitchen, I was serving meals in the neighborhood, helping run the Campus Cupboard, and hosting my own open cooking hours in the Food Lab.  All of these activities required me to talk to people and build rapport, because we want the people that frequent these activities to return week after week and feel comfortable.

Brian Coyle is a community center within the Cedar Riverside neighborhood that offers many programs for youth. They teach teens how to use different technologies, such as sewing machines, computers, cameras, printers, and more, help with homework, provide a safe space to hang out, helps prepare them for post high-school education, etc. Through my job with Campus Kitchen, I bring dinner to Brian Coyle a couple of times each week. 

You might be wondering,  how does this relate to helping me build up my bubbly, talkative energy? Well, part of the dinner delivery shift is that we would sit down with the community center members who attend and share a meal with them, which of course, means that we engage in conversation and build relationships.  At first, I was overwhelmed and afraid to speak because I no longer had the courage to.  However, most of those who attend our CK dinner deliveries are energetic teenagers who want to broaden their experiences with different people and have many connections.  So it really wasn’t that hard for me to start speaking when one of the teenagers asked about my ethnicity and if I could help them learn my native language. Through experiences like this, Campus Kitchen has not only provided me with a steady income as a college student, but has also helped me gain new skills.