Freshman cooks up tasty recipes

GW freshman Ashley Rotenstreich says diversity is the spice of life, and she would know. She is a volunteer and co-author of a new cookbook for charity.

Rotenstreich was actively involved in community service during high school, and she played a major role in the composition of a cookbook, La Cocina de la Familia. A native New Yorker, Rotenstreich contributed much of her time to working at La Bodega de la Familia, a drug rehabilitation center in Alphabet City located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The cookbook she helped to compile consisted of traditional recipes from the people in the rehab center.

The idea for the cookbook originated at a Three Kings’ Day party at La Bodega when the project director of the center thought it would be wonderful to make a compilation of traditional recipes of the people of Alphabet City, Rotenstreich said.

Rotenstreich’s main task in the making of La Cocina de La Familia was to talk to the people in La Bodega and Alphabet City and get traditional recipes from them to put in the cookbook. Rotenstreich started working on the cookbook during the summer, and the project lasted for about three months.

Rotenstreich’s interest in working with people first sparked when she started learning about diversity issues during her sophomore year of high school. She was trained in facilitation, which deals with educating people about issues like race and sexual orientation. Rotenstreich began to attend national conferences on diversity. Her interest in diversity and helping people led her to start working at La Bodega. Rotenstreich said she was most influenced by a special friend who was gay.

“I had a friend who was gay,” she said. “It was during my sophomore year of high school, and I was very close to him, and I saw what he went through, and it made me change my whole perspective. He was just a wonderful friend to me and he showed me that there was so much more in a person than their sexual orientation.”

Her close friendship with him was the main reason she started learning about diversity issues.

The diversity programs, her work at La Bodega and her relationship with her friend have given Rotenstreich a broader perspective on life, she said. Rotenstreich said she is uncertain about her future, but she knows one thing for sure.

“I want to be able to get down on my hands and knees and help people, not sit behind a desk,” Rotenstreich said. “I want to be able to work with all types of people with different backgrounds.”

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