The Kingsville and greater Coastal Bend community can sample the tastes, hear the sounds and experience the cultures of the world at the International Extravaganza at Santa Gertrudis School. The Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy students promote cultural awareness at the international extravaganza each spring semester.
Many cultures are represented – Europe, Asia, India, the Islands, Mexico and South America. The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy students exchange ethnic foods, share an understanding of the health benefits of these ethnic foods, share multilingual lyrics and music, and play 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., vice dean, 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 is for students 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 Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy.
At the 2012 event, 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. He plans to perform at the extravaganza this year as well.
Middle school children from the Santa Gertrudis School in 2013 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 will showcase folkloric ballet, H.M. King High Mariachi Band will perform and Perez Elementary school will perform.
“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, is coordinated through the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy student cultural diversity committee.