International Students Share Cultures During Parade of Nations

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The cultural diversity that is Parade of Nations was made even more unique this year with a novel addition: volunteer performance participation from the President’s Cabinet. The multicultural event, held March 21 in the University Center, is presented annually by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Office of International Education, in partnership with all international student organizations.

Co-emcees Cristiane Borges Quadros, a graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program and president of the International Student Association, and Rishi Raj, a doctoral student in Educational Leadership, introduced each of the 10 performances and presentations by students representing Mexico, India, China, Vietnam, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, and Colombia.

“I was impressed by the authenticity our international students brought by wearing original attire from their country,” Borges Quadros, a Brazil native, said. “We had authenticity through their costume, presentation, dance, and food.”

 The event, which included informational booths and a complimentary lunch meal consisting of chicken chow mein (China), jollof rice (Nigeria), vegetable manchurian (India), and cassava balls (Colombia), attracted a full room of students, faculty, and staff members. Raj, a native of India, said it was a remarkable experience to watch an event that was in the planning for months come to fruition.

“It’s something that you cannot express in words because we have been practicing and that’s one thing, but when you see everyone all dressed up in their native clothes and with their flags – it gives you chills,” Raj said. “And to see faculty and staff collaborate with us, that was amazing.”

Members of the President’s Cabinet were featured in many of the performances. Tom Mundell, vice president for Institutional Advancement, provided a calligraphy illustration during the Chinese poetry recitation of “The Ballad of Mulan” by the Chinese Student Association; Dr. Clarenda Phillips, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, danced with Azerbaijani presenter Alimursal Ibrahimov. Not to be outdone, Athletics Director Jon Palumbo participated in the lion dance presented by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association and the Vietnamese Student Association.

In addition, Cheryl Cain, vice president of Marketing & Communications, joined members of the Colombian Student Association for a high-energy dance number. Closing out the program, the Vietnamese Student Association performed a dance number with President Kelly M. Quintanilla, who donned traditional Vietnamese clothing for the performance.

In her closing comments, Dr. Amy Aldridge-Sanford, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, thanked Edward Evans, senior associate vice president for information technology and chief information officer, and Jaclyn Mahlmann, acting executive vice president for finance and administration and director, budget, along with the rest of the President’s Cabinet for participating in the program.

“Every single member of the President’s Cabinet wanted to participate,” Sanford said.

Phillips reflected in her remarks on the diversity of the campus community and the Island University’s emphasis on inclusion for all international students, staff and faculty.

“What I see when I look around this room is beauty. And it’s not just in terms of the cultures we represent but it’s in terms of what we bring when we come together – a true mosaic, if you will,” Phillips said at the conclusion of the event. “If you look at a mosaic, it’s the colors that blend together – yes, they may stand apart – but it’s when they blend together that you can imagine what the world would be like if we lived in peace and harmony.”

Biology major Caryn Garcia said she enjoyed the experience and was glad she made time for the event.

“If you haven’t attended Parade of Nations before, you need to. I really like the fact that the University celebrates different cultures and nations,” Garcia said.