UAMS Tours The World at International Fest, Caps Diversity Month

By ChaseYavondaC

UAMS faculty, staff and students who attended transformed into globetrotting tourists and sightseers. It began in China, sampling local cuisine, admiring art and learning the written Chinese language. Then, they crossed China’s southern border into Vietnam, browsing festive women’s attire and learning local marriage customs and traditions.

Next, the wanderers made their way across the Bay of Bengal, India and the Arabian Sea to Iran where they enjoyed pastries, had their names written in Farsi and read Persian poetry. The pack of nomads made their way across the Mediterranean Sea, northern Africa and the Atlantic Ocean before landing in Haiti to admire local paintings and art, peruse clothing and enjoy local music.

Visitors enjoyed a second trip around the world through food provided by Nutrition Services. There was chicken with turmeric rice and Kalamata olives from Brazil, khachapuri bread from Georgia, Balkan Quiche pie from Croatia, a castella shortbread from Japan and watermelon punch from Korea.

The annual event, sponsored by the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs, celebrates the diversity of the UAMS family, which represents more than 80 countries.

“We always enjoy the opportunity to display and celebrate the cultures and backgrounds that make up UAMS,” said Billy Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and director of the Center for Diversity Affairs.

It also marks the culmination of UAMS Diversity Month, also hosted by the Center for Diversity Affairs. The series of events began Sept. 6 with the annual State of Diversity and Inclusion ceremony and awards. Four UAMS members were recognized for their contributions to promoting diversity on campus and in the community.

On Sept. 13, Erick Messias, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate dean for faculty affairs in the UAMS College of Medicine, gave a midday presentation and led a Q&A session on five notable empires in world history and how the relationship of each with diversity and tolerance corresponded with its rise and fall.

On Sept. 20 at a lunchtime talk, Sara Tariq, M.D., assistant dean for undergraduate clinical education in the College of Medicine, helped attendees identify and understand privilege and conceptualize ways to help others.

“Diversity Month exposes and educates the entire UAMS community,” said Thomas. “It is through programs like these that we become a more welcoming, informed and inclusive community.”