As you all may know by this point, I love attending NOSA events! NOSA, or the National Optometric Student Association always has creative events to showcase different religions and cultures that our school represents. This time, I was able to attend their annual multicultural event, which is a big deal at our school! It is exciting to be surrounded by so many different students from different backgrounds at UIWRSO, I think it adds to our experience.
Walking into the room, you could first see all of the bright colors and decorations that every table beautifully presented. You could also hear the music that each culture and religion picked out to be played over the intercom. I heard everything from Drake (for the Canadian club) all the way to traditional Greek music. There was also an overwhelming smell of food! Of course I was excited to try all of the food samples from each table, so I grabbed my plate and was on my way.
First, I stopped by the Laos and Thailand table, where a third year student, Anthony Vanrachack, was passing out homemade sticky rice and Kopiko, or coffee flavored candy.
Next was the Indian and Hinduism table, which showcased three students dressed in traditional clothing while handing out tri-colored barfi, a sweet treat. They also had colorful trinkets displayed.
My next stop around the world was the Mexico table. It was obviously my favorite table because it involves my favorite food! They had homemade tamales, which are usually eaten around Christmas time, so it was a nice reminder of being home for the holidays.
The Jewish table followed, which was run by Melanie Kane, a third year student. It was one of my favorite tables just based on how beautiful it looked with a tablecloth decorated with the Star of David, as well as dreidels and several menorahs, in honor of Hanukkah.
I went to the other side of the room and caught up with Dr. Maki, one of our beloved professors, who made homemade sushi, which was amazing, to represent Japan. He also loves origami and brought some of his intricate designs to show off!
There was a great Italian spread of food, provided by NOSA, and it was manned by Van Do, the president of UIWRSO’s NOSA, as well as another third year student, Dennis Yu, who is the Asian-American Committee Representative for our school.
The Greek table was next, and Michael Bilalis was handing out homemade cookies his mother made just for the NOSA event! He also had baklava and had the projector behind him, displaying a Grecian paradise.
Another table that I absolutely loved was the Persian table. They had one of the most delicious things I’ve tasted in my entire life: saffron cake. Not only was the food great, but the table was also beautifully decorated.
One of the most interesting tables was the Mormon table. I’ve always wanted to learn more about this religion and the third year students who were working this table had great pictures, books, and decorations for students to look at.
I joined the Canadian club this year, so it was great to see their table, as well. They showcased Canadian flags, money, and a slideshow about the country where many of our UIWRSO students come from.
There was also a good turnout of faculty members who came, including another table held by Dr. Kasraie and Dr. Sanchez-Diaz. They were handing out tapas, which are appetizers or snacks, from Spain.
Once I had my heavy plate full of food and sat down, everyone was treated to a presentation by Valenta Carter, the NOA Region IV Trustee, about Cultural Diversity. Through her presentation, we were able to realize how much cultural diversity plays a role in how we will conduct ourselves with different people in our practices every single day. She made sure to point out that we should familiarize ourselves with different cultures and their practices, because you might accidentally offend someone otherwise. She also emphasized how cultural diversity helps us by ending on this quote from Robert Alan Silverstein: “Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity.”
Later that week, NOSA was lucky enough to be a part of the Greek Festival here in the heart of San Antonio. I was able to go and sample all of the great food, culture, and of course dancing on stage yelling “OPA!” It demonstrated to me how much NOSA and UIWRSO would like their students to be involved in the community and develop as a person, learning about and embracing different cultures and religions.
Pictures below courtesy of James DeMarco.