The UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics showcased its unique and diverse student body during its “Spring Culture Day” event.
Student Government Organization President Mehmet Inam came up with the idea to have students from various parts of the world share small items and foods that are representative of their native country during the event, which was held on Wednesday, March 8.
Inam gave away hand-crafted bracelets, candies, and painted snack bowls from Turkey to educate other students about his homeland, as the third-year graduate student hails from Istanbul. He also set up a selfie station for students to share photos on social media.
“Because the nature of what we do as biomedical informatics students, we sit in front of the computer quite a bit, so I wanted to create an event that was more inclusive and brings us together in person to learn about one another,” Inam said. “It is difficult for us all to gather, so I needed a reason. We thought that sharing about our cultures would be a lot of fun and interesting.”
Deepthi Viswaroopan and Shikha Tripathi organized a table highlighting their native India, giving away keychains, embroidered coasters, incense, and beautiful pairs of earrings called “jhumkas.”
“There are actually quite a few students in our school from India,” said Viswaroopan, who recently arrived in Houston and is in her first semester. “That has been so nice to see.”
Ivan Coronado, who hails from Bogota, Colombia, handed out delicious cups of Colombian rice pudding and coffee-flavored candies, while wearing his country’s traditional attire of a pullover and hat. Coronado grew up in New York City and earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M, before arriving at UTHealth Houston.
Astrid Manuel chose to highlight her mother’s native country of Venezuela as well as her father’s homeland of Spain.
“The first language I spoke was actually Spanish, but now I call it more like Spanglish,” Manuel said, who was born and raised by her Spanish-speaking grandmother in South Florida. “Miami has such a rich Latino culture, it has been nice to see that Houston is very similar.”
Maryamsadet Mohtashamian arrived at the School of Biomedical Informatics in 2021 from Tehran, Iran, choosing UTHealth Houston for the opportunity to study biomedical informatics. Her goal is to become a data scientist.
“Things are changing so quickly in my country, I don’t know if I will return there with a degree unless the situation for women improves,” Mohtashamian said. “There is a revolution happening, so I am hopeful. But, I also love it in America because the people have been so warm and friendly. I wanted to share my culture with my new friends.”