Mixing with Teas

By: Celeste Powell

At 11 a.m., Jan. 29, Cameron University Diversity Diplomats hosted their spring cultural celebration Mixing with Teas in the Buddy Green Room.

Inclusion and Student Success Coordinator Olivia Polynice, who is also the advisor to the Diversity Diplomats, said she believes Cameron students acknowledge diversity on campus. “Students respond well to ethnic diversity,” she said. “We like to stress in Diversity Diplomats both ethnic and international diversity because it is very different. Sometimes we only think of diversity as race, but a lot of it is social diversity.”

The Diversity Diplomats host a cultural celebration every semester. The first event is the Diversity Celebration—in coordination with the Office of Student Development—in the Fall and the second is Mixing with Teas in the spring.

Past events include summits, workshops and roundtables. This year at Mixing with Teas, the Diversity Diplomats presented styles of tea from Morocco, Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia and China.

Vice president Sammar Shahid said during a presentation at the event that there are multiple varieties of her culture’s tea. “There are many types of loose leaf tea,” she said. “Loose leaf tea’s taste can vary depending on where and how it’s grown despite being the same tea.”

Shahid said she developed the idea for Mixing with Teas to highlight and represent other cultures. “I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and my parents are from Pakistan, so I relate to both cultures,” she said. “Being in Diversity Diplomats helps me share my culture with a wide variety of people that may relate to my experiences.”

Polynice said the importance of hosting these events lies in inclusion. “We’re learning about these topics and holding ourselves to a standard of respect,” she said. “Being inclusive isn’t for us; it’s for the people we’re trying to include.”

Polynice also said she appreciates being an advisor to the Diversity Diplomats because of her own culture and experiences. “It means a lot to me to be a voice for minority people,” she said. “I feel there is a great importance not just in what I’m experiencing or what women nationally are experiencing, but what about the students on our campus? What are they feeling and experiencing in the workplaces or in the classrooms? I want to make sure their narratives are heard.”

Both Polynice and Shahid agreed that they identify with a specific tea from their individual cultures. Polynice said she identifies as Caribbean-American, where coffee is popular. “We’re big coffee people in the Caribbean, especially in Haitian and Puerto Rican cultures,” she said. “Café can leche is coffee with milk that is made with an expresso-like machine used on the stovetop.

“We usually eat it with bread like pan sobao.” Shahid said drinking tea in her household happens at a specific time each day. “My family is a big tea drinker since my great-greatgreat grandfathers time,” she said. “Every day at 6 p.m. sharp everyone in the household drinks tea.” For more information on joining Diversity Diplomats, contact Olivia Polynice at opolynic@cameron.edu. Diversity Diplomat meetings are also held at 1 p.m. on Fridays in North Shepler, room 312.

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