By Lariena Nokes
America is truly a melting pot, with our culture defined by our differences. The HCC Cultural Fair and Forum was eye-opening as well as entertaining.
The Parker Student Union hosted the cultural fair in the main lobby, with 14 booths showcasing world traditions.
The Cultural Forum was held in the Blue Dragon room, with many people attending and speaking.
“If people could look beyond our faces and learn that we all have so much in common. We work play and learn together, we have to know each other,” said Chris Palacio, HCC’s HALO group sponsor.
By knowing our own roots, we can seek to explore and understand the histories and cultures of those with whom we share our world, the speakers said.
“Mexico is based on tradition and family,” said Jose Ruiz, Los Angeles. “In the towns, everybody knows each other. It is a very friendly place.”
Diana Rodrigez, Scott City, cooked fresh feculas, placing the small red pasta disks in hot cooking oil until they puffed up, fully cooked; then she let them cool to be served.
Feculas are sometimes called churros and can be enjoyed as a savory or sweet snack, depending on the part of Mexico they are served in.
“My mother told me you never know what your lot in life is going to be,” said Carolyn Parson, an HCC counselor.
“It is just as wrong for them to hate as it is for me,” she said.
She demonstrated that one of the strongest cultural ties has always been food, by sharing her cooking with students and staff. Parson shared her passion for history and hard work with a smile and a friendly offer to try the food.
“How important it is that we learn our histories, and eat the foods of our ancestors,” she said.
Serving authentic “fifth-quarter,” post-slavery southern style food the table was a center of attention the entire morning.
The turnip greens with ham hocks, yard-bird salt-and-pepper chicken wings, cornbread and sweet potato pie were served with the help of Darrell Adams, who assisted Parsons with cooking the food.
All of the cuisine smelled amazing and tasted wonderful.
“Excellent — the best food since I have been here,” said Alphondo Custis, Philadelphia.
The cultural panel was an open discussion of race relations.
It sparked passion and educated many students about each other’s personal views. The panel was hosted by Darrell Grubs EMS instructor at the Peel Center.
Students, facility, and community leaders shared a conversation about race-related issues.
“Value the individual. Thrust yourself into other cultural situations,” Grubs said.
The panel advised people to make conscious choices to make the world a better place.
“Respect other people’s opinions even if we do not agree with them,” said Deigo Revera HCC student body president.
“It is most important that we are all human. It does not matter what skin color you are or where you come from, we all bleed red,” said Mahmoud Odeh, of HCC tech support.
Police involvement in the deaths of arrested, unarmed suspects continues to be a hot issue across the nation.
Many possible solutions were discussed.
Dick Heitschmidt, Hutchinson police chief, was asked about the idea of a national law enforcement certification to standardize training.
“I cannot say, but there will be serious discussion about the matter,” Heitschmidt said.
“Continued training, re-training and department review are the working answers right now.”
In reviewing the panel, Dr. Hence Parson, retired HCC department chair of social sciences and co-coordinator of cultural events, was moved and inspired by the conversations he saw shared at the panel.
“Younger folks are not as inclined to hold on to racial stereotypes as older folks are,” Parson said.
The day’s events ended with Darrell Grubs challenging those in attendance to recall the one event in their life that has led them to believe that America is making progress towards being color blind.
“ We as humans can do better and we are better,” Parson said.
“Hate is not a part of the human race.”