Celebration of Cultures at the Holiday Tea

Food, performances and culture boards will aid in showcasing customs

There are approximately 16,000 students currently attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Almost 950 are non-resident international students, representing 76 countries, including India, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Nigeria.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, international and domestic students will step into the spotlight and share a bit of their culture with those attending the Chancellor’s Holiday Tea.

Based on focus groups held during the summer, students expressed a desire to create an inclusive celebration of all cultures – to see international holiday celebrations connected with American culture. This celebration will include ethnic food, dress and customs.

Students representing six UMKC cultural groups will perform and display decorative, culture-specific boards at the holiday tea from 4 – 6 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium on the Volker Campus.

The celebration of cultures – led by UMKC students Amra Suljic and Sashi Kanth Saripalle – is “to bring together people from all ethnicities, races, religions and backgrounds to celebrate this holiday season together, share information, break barriers and make friends with those from different backgrounds and cultures.”

And, according to Suljic, they have a chance to highlight UMKC’s varied cultures.

“The cultural celebration is important to me and other students because it allows us to educate others about our home countries, religions and the customs that we hold dear to our hearts,” said Suljic. “The cultural celebration gives us the opportunity to show off the diversity UMKC students bring to our campus.”

A taped dress rehearsal of this event will be shown at the Dec. 10 tea at the Hospital Hill campus, which will be held at Diastole. Diastole does not offer a suitable performance space for a live event of this nature.

Facilitators for the student cultural groups are Angela Cottrell, director of Student Involvement; Sandy Gault, director, International Student Affairs; and Tiffany Williams, director, Multicultural Student Affairs. According to Gault, this has been a good experience for the facilitators.

“Students have an innocence about accepting everyone’s culture,” said Gault. “We have so much to learn from them. We should respect the opportunity to celebrate their cultures.”


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