Have you ever had that one friend where you look back and ask yourself, “How in the world did we ever become friends?” Grace Hooker and I are as different as day and night. She’s outgoing and bubbly and loves to be everywhere all at once. I tend to be more relaxed and take my sweet time. But she is one of the funniest and strongest people I have the pleasure of being friends with.
Grace is a sophomore dietetics major who has lived in Nashville, Tennessee, her whole life. Although she has lived in the South, she is an avid traveler and has the desire to learn about cultures from different places. “I’ve always felt like I’ve never had a culture growing up, so I really wanted to surround myself with all types of cultures and diversity,” she said.
She recalls the first time she experienced another culture. “When I was 10, my family and I moved from the Green Hills area to Antioch. This was the first time I was exposed to a different culture,” she explained. “Everyone there was Egyptian, and they were very hospitable. They’d invite us to their house to have Egyptian food, which was so good. I was fascinated by the differences I saw between my family and theirs, and I thought it was really cool.”
Grace continued to meet more people from all sorts of backgrounds, and with that, she learned many things about their way of life, beliefs and food. One specific dish that she said she would never grow tired of is a Persian dish she’d eat at her Persian friends’ houses called ghormeh sabzi. It’s basically an herb stew with a variety of spices, beans and a type of meat. “I could eat it every single day!” she exclaimed. “Persians usually eat it warm with rice, yogurt or tahdig, which is the part of the rice that gets stuck at the bottom of the pan. But sometimes I find myself eating it cold or by itself. It’s seriously that good.”
Grace’s love for food and culture led her to pursue her degree in dietetics. “It’s such a wide field, so there’s a lot of different areas to dabble in such as clinical work, community nutrition or being a traveling dietician. There’s so many possibilities,” she explained. “One of the things I’d like to do is work with a non-profit organization in a third-world country and help with the meal planning and teach the importance of nutrition. I’m so passionate about nutrition, and I want to be able to educate people about it.”
The way that Grace easily gets along with and understands where people come from is one of the things I love about her. “Being around other cultures definitely showed me that there’s never one way to look at things, like your upbringing, your society or how things are done. There’s something really beautiful about it. If everyone was the same, life would be really boring. It really has enhanced my life to see things in a different perspective, and I’ve become a better person because of it.”
What are some ways you can see things in a different perspective?