Students share cultural diversity

KINGSVILLE, Texas — More than 300 members of the Kingsville community sampled the tastes, heard the sounds and experienced the cultures of the world at the 2013 International Extravaganza at Santa Gertrudis School.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy students promoted cultural awareness at the international extravaganza from 1 to 4 p.m. March 23.

Thongsamuth Bee Noymany, third-year doctoral pharmacy student and master of ceremony, has participated since her first year at TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy.

“I believe this event is the best way to combine both worlds of cultural diversity and pharmacy,” she said.

Many cultures were represented – Europe, Asia, India, the Islands, Mexico and South America. TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy students exchanged ethnic foods, shared an understanding of the health benefits of these ethnic foods, shared multilingual lyrics and music, and played multicultural games that originated from different parts of the world.

“Pharmacists have a unique opportunity to influence the positive health outcomes for all of their patients,” said Mary Chavez, Pharm.D., professor and chair of pharmacy practice. “As future pharmacists, pharmacy students are taught to recognize beliefs, values, language preferences and health practices in a culturally competent manner.”

One way students develop cultural competency is to seek an understanding and respect for another person’s culture. One exciting way was for students and the community to obtain a glimpse of some of the cultural traditions at the International Extravaganza.

Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., who serves as the faculty adviser for the cultural diversity committee and has participated in the event since 2009, said the extravaganza reminds him of the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.

“To me, through these events we recall what unites us as a people, which are not based on colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names,” said Kumar, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy.

Kumar sang songs in three different languages, Hindi, Oriya, and Bengali, along with his wife, Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., a research scientist. “The theme of all these songs were the same, praise the supreme that created us and give the ‘purpose’ to this life through helping others and sharing what is good,” he said.

Middle school children from the Santa Gertrudis School performed a Tinikling Dance, a traditional filipino dance originated in Leyte among the Visayan islands in central Philippines as an imitation of the tikling bird. In addition, students from Ricardo Elementary school showcased folkloric ballet, H.M. King High Mariachi Band performed multiple ethnic dances and Perez Elementary school performed.

“Overall, I feel that the extravaganza is a way for us — students and the school as whole — to give back to the community we serve and reside in,” said John Bangsal, third-year doctoral pharmacy student.

The event, sponsored by Walgreens, was coordinated through the TAMHSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy student cultural diversity committee.

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