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UK Healthcare DEI Council spreads holiday cheer through Crucial Conversations series

By Grace Colville
University of Kentucky

The UK HealthCare Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council hosted the latest in its series of Crucial Conversations last week. The purpose of this virtual forum was to shed light and educate others on holidays celebrated by different religious and cultural groups during the holiday season.

Speakers from the Crucial Conversations holiday event. From left to right: Tukea Talbert, Stephen Summers, Dr. Mark Newman, Dr. Rani Chikkanna and Dr. Larry Goldstein. Not pictured: Luz Jiminez. (Photo from UK HealthCare Corporate Communications)

The speakers were invited to share the meaning of the holidays, as well as memories and traditions from celebrations in years past. The four speakers were Dr. Rani Chikkanna, Dr. Larry Goldstein, Luz Jimenez and Stephen Summers. They spoke of Diwali, Hanukkah, Dia de los Muertos and Christmas, respectively. Tukea Talbert, chief diversity officer for UK HealthCare and adjunct faculty member at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, served as moderator for the event and gave an overview of Kwanzaa.

“We have a shared calling and responsibility to create space to allow everyone to be their true self,” said Talbert. “This event was intentionally designed as a platform for expression, discussion, information sharing, and to demonstrate how we can celebrate our differences.”

Though each holiday is hosted by different groups of people for different reasons, a common theme emerged during the event – the celebration of overcoming dark times. Death is commonly viewed as the end of life and is often surrounded by mourning, but Dia de los Muertos is a way to celebrate the lives of loved ones and to show appreciation for them, even when their physical life has ended. Diwali is quite literally the festival of lights, and the lights are to symbolize light winning over darkness, or knowledge overcoming ignorance. Hanukkah is the celebration of light enduring through a dark time in history and Christmas celebrates the birth of a King in an unlikely set of circumstances.

The large Christmas tree in Pavilion A of Chandler Hospital has photos of health care workers and their families as ornaments. (Photo from UK HealthCare Corporate Communications)

UK HealthCare Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Mark Newman attended the event as well. He reminded listeners that although this year’s holiday season is different than years past, it allows us to delve into the true meanings of why we celebrate.

“Taking time to celebrate is important now more than ever,” said Newman. “Even when we are being asked to modify the way we celebrate.”

Although holidays in our homes this year may not be what we are used to, UK HealthCare is making sure to deck the halls this season. Along with the large Christmas tree in the lobby of Pavilion A, there are smaller trees, each with their own themes, throughout all of Chandler Hospital. Near the large tree, this year there is also a display that showcases the holidays that were discussed at Crucial Conversations: Dia de los Muertos, Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Crucial Conversations is a virtual series sponsored by UK HealthCare’s DEI Council. Plans are underway for the next series of Crucial Conversations, and they will be announced once finalized.

Grace Colville writes for UK Now

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