My name is Shannon Fillingim. I will graduate in May 2017 from The Ohio State University with a bachelor of science in Chinese and international studies. I didn’t grow up in Columbus, but through studying at Ohio State, working in the Short North and Grandview, and exploring all culinary corners of the city, I’ve come to consider this city home.
Besides being the living proof that you’re never at your best when you’re hungry, I’m enthralled by the way food relates to culture. When I lived in Xi’an, China for two months in the summer of 2015 with the Critical Language Scholarship program, I completed an independent photojournalism project in which I interviewed three residents of Xi’an about their relationships with the food they cooked, ate, and worked with. The stories that the university student, the cafeteria worker, and the restaurant chef shared with me about the rich and diverse traditions of Chinese cuisine changed and deepened my experience in China. This spring, I lived with a Spanish host family during a three-month-long study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain. The best souvenir I brought home from my stay in Europe was my host mother’s recipe for Spanish tortilla.
I’m excited to share the joy that food brings me with the participants of the Summer Chefs project. More than that, I’m eager to learn more about my home, Columbus. Though I love Ohio State for its proximity to the culture Columbus embodies, as I learn more about social justice I realize that much of the university community is insulated from the real problems Columbus faces. I have no delusions about this project being the magic solution to systemic problems like inequality and poverty, but I believe that small actions can make a difference.