The front lawn of Bradley Hall was buzzing with excitement as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) celebrated their annual International Day September 23.

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“Fort Benning is blessed to be the home of the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security and Cooperation where we partner with friends and allies from across North and South America,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahoe, commanding general, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning. “Festivals like this allow us to celebrate our connections and appreciate the many cultures that make up the Americas. And the food is great!”

Students and instructors from our partner nations setup booths featuring food and drinks from their home countries. Guests were able to sample flavors as they circulated the area.

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“They get a taste of Dutch food, a look at our culture, and an experience not everyone gets,” said Cathy Van Der Valk, representing the Netherlands.

Her booth featured zuurkool, hutspot, rookworst and zuurvlees to eat. After admiring the collection of traditional clothing and wooden shoes, guests could toast the King with a shot of orange bitter and walk away chewing on drop, the classic Dutch black licorice treat.

“It’s a lovely opportunity to showcase Dutch culture,” Van Der Valk said.

A short stroll across the grass saw guests visiting Colombia with host Marcela Higuita.

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“I came prepared with everything to demonstrate our country and our culture,” Higuita explained. “All of the beautiful things that make up our beautiful country.”

After taste-testing traditional food favorites such as pata cones and crepes con queso, visitors could get a photo in traditional accessories including a sash representing the hearts of Colombian Soldiers and their protective wives.

In total, 18 nations brought a piece of their country to Fort Benning, bringing the community and students closer together.

“The thing that I love most about WHINSEC International Day is the interaction of our partner nation families with the local community in the Tri-City area,” said Col. John D. Suggs, Jr., Commandant, WHINSEC. “Our interaction in this little community is a symbol of our interaction as a family of nations in the hemisphere. This small event symbolizes the best of what we can be when we work and play together!”

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