News & Events

Appreciation for diversity promoted at multicultural fair

October 18, 2013

“Our children, our future” was the impetus behind this year’s Multicultural Health Fair, held on Thursday, Oct. 10 in the entry-level conference rooms.

Spearheaded by Community Health Education Nurse, Alice Facente, RN, MSN and the hospital’s diversity council, the goal of the fifth annual fair was to showcase how the cultural preferences of the diverse population among our hospital, patients and community can affect an individual’s health care.

“From birth customs to gender issues to end-of-life practices, one’s cultural customs can make a tremendous impact on how they wish to receive care,” said Facente.  “And, as this year’s theme points out, our children are the ones who will carry these traditions into the future.”

Guests to the fair were greeted to a meeting of the nations.  The conference rooms were transformed into a festival-like atmosphere, as representatives displayed native dishes and performed ethnic music.  A labor of love, Facente also compiled two booklets for fair-goers to take home – one included cultural information written by the representatives, and the other included recipes for each of the cultures.

Representing Colombia for the first time this year, Maggie Sarria, was honored to share her culture with visitors.  In addition to providing handouts, she also brought native arts and crafts.

Sarria came to the United States 40 years ago, when she was 16 years old.  All of her family still lives in Colombia with the exception of two brothers.

With a smile, Sarria said, “Colombia is a nice country, the weather is warm and the coffee is good.”

When she was asked about health care differences between the United States and Colombia, Sarria said she is very satisfied with health care in the United States.  She said regardless of a person’s ability to pay for health care, people are still treated by hospitals in the United States.  In Colombia, if an individual cannot afford to pay up front, they are denied care.

Representing Puerto Rico was a family affair for MIS staffer Rose Field-Santiago.  A Backus employee for nine years, Field-Santiago will serve as the Puerto Rican representative along with her son, daughter and three nieces.

Although she was born in the United States, both of Field-Santiago’s parents were born in Puerto Rico.  Her parents felt strongly about passing along their customs to their children.

“To keep our culture alive, my parents taught me Spanish, played Puerto Rican music and dressed me in native clothing,” said Field-Santiago.  “We also made trips back to Puerto Rico to visit family and friends.”

To sustain her roots, Field-Santiago continues many of her parents’ traditions with her own children.  From dress and speaking Spanish at home to doing different activities, Field-Santiago is teaching her children to be proud of their culture.

“Through the health fair, I hope that my children can help each others about the diversity of our community,” said Field-Santiago.  “Many people don’t understand the differences in customs, from health care to education.  We can all learn from each and every culture.  I hope that we can all learn to appreciate each other’s differences and break down stereotypes for future generations.”


Cultures represented at this year’s fair included Greece, China, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Philippines, Cape Verde, India, Poland, Honduras, Colombia, Italy, Ghana, Pakistan, Tibet, Lebanon, Jamaica, Ireland, Brazil, Israel and Korea.