Who is behind the sushi counter? A cultural virtuoso

In the Marist cafeteria, 4:00pm is a meticulously organized time – a calm before the storm, when the cafeteria workers are preparing dinner and bracing themselves for the slew of hungry students soon to arrive. “We are pretty busy!” answered JoJo Naing from behind the sushi bar, when I if he could spare a minute for a few questions. His wife, Thin Thin, was feverishly setting up the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce station while he checked the rice cooker. JoJo and Thin Thin are happily married – and you can tell. Together, the couple works six days a week serving the Marist students their very own delicious sushi, from tuna avocado to California rolls.IMG_3398 (1)

Jojo and Thin Thin are originally from Myanmar, but left their homeland 10 years ago due to the serious ongoing civil conflict there. “There is no peace in my country”, Jojo stated. Along with their two daughters, the Naing family now resides in Hyde Park where they have their own sushi restaurant, KT Sushi. Occasionally, you can even find their daughters behind the counter, helping their parents by rolling out sushi or preparing rice. The two more or less communicate with the Marist community with the help of a translator, but can get by in casual conversation with the students. “They are always smiling, and I can tell they love what they are doing!” says Marist freshman Kevin Stewart, who admits to eating from the sushi bar almost daily. Continue reading