Summa sponsors cultural program
By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published on Saturday, Dec 11, 2010
Stanley Chen moved slowly.
Chen was in constant motion as he slowly turned and moved his hands, all the while maintaining his balance. The 76-year-old from Taiwan demonstrated tai chi in perfect step mirroring the actions of a martial arts master on film in the background.
Chen, who represented Asian Services in Action Inc., performed Friday at the Summa Western Reserve Hospital auditorium in Cuyahoga Falls. He was part of a cultural awareness program sponsored by Summa called Sharing of the Seasons.
The diversity initiative focused on the meaning, traditions and various observances celebrated by many faiths during the holiday season. Displays featured photos that explained the various traditions.
”It is very global. It’s an educational opportunity,” said Lisa Denson Littlejohn, the event consultant.
Some of the activities included Chinese paper folding and calligraphy. Employees lined up to sample the southern Indian cuisine catered by the Saffron Patch. The menu included veggie and beef samosas, butter naan, chicken tikka Marsala, tandoori chicken, vegetable korma and mutter paneer. International teas and coffees also were available.
”The event was aimed primarily for Summa employees to share in the traditions and observances of different cultures, but we also included the community,” said Robert DeJournett, director of community relations and diversity at the hospital. ”We are sensitive to the needs of our patients who also come from diverse backgrounds.”
He said Summa will take the event to Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital on Wednesday and Barberton Citizens Hospital on Friday. The same program was held at Akron City Hospital earlier this week.
There are 600 employees at Summa Western Reserve Hospital. There are 25 nations listed as places of birth among its employees. ”So far so good,” resident doctor Scott Branch said of the event. ”We enjoy all cultures. I’m from Atlanta.” He particularly enjoyed the Indian cuisine and the tai chi demonstration.
”You could really see his [Chen’s] discipline in the art. Tai chi helps promote good health and is used a lot in physical therapy,” Branch said. Chen said the art has a lot of bending and teaches balance. He has been practicing tai chi for 40 years. He said it was developed in ancient China for self-defense but has evolved into slow graceful movements of exercise for the elderly with its mixture of meditation and movement connecting the mind and body. He said it originally had about 100 movements, but has dwindled to about 24 steps.
Other presentations were given by Surinder Bhardwaj, a geographer by profession, retired KSU professor and head of pastoral care at Robinson Memorial Hospital. He explained the Diwali Festival of Lights, a five-day festival tied to Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. ”Diwali is just as significant as Christmas is for Christians,” Bhardwaj said. ”It is a season of lights, gift exchanges and sweets, with emphasis on the lights.”
He said there are two main reactions to diversity. One can be fear, in which a person bases everything on suspicion. The second is inclusion, in which a person enjoys cultural enrichment.
Violinist Steve Ostrow performed Hanukkah music and Omo Iroko Drum and Dance Society performed music and dance in celebration of Kwanzaa.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.