International Festival proceeds to benefit service trip 

“Thank you for everything you do.” It was a seemingly simple sentiment expressed by a Dominican patient who waited 20 minutes for a translator to convey his heartfelt gratitude to then first-year student Taylor Simmerman during the 2014 service trip.

The $1,500 raised Feb. 13, at the PAX Club’s annual International Festival, will again positively impact a struggling third-world community.

Donations are still being accepted for the upcoming service trip during WVSOM’s spring break, March 21-28, to the Dominican Republic. All monetary gifts will be spent on medications and supplies for Dominican patients.

The spirited International Festival atmosphere was sparked by students willing to share their talents and cultural traditions. A group of 14 first-year students met over the fall and winter to choreograph a three-part medley of songs and dances with a South Asian and Middle Eastern influence. The performance included Dabke, a Mediterranean circle folk dance; a quintessential glamorous Bollywood dance; and a popular dance style known as Bhangra, originating from India.

Students and faculty prepared a variety of cultural dishes. First-year students Tom Kashiwagi and Michael Savilla demonstrated sushi preparation, to the delight of guests. Several faculty members and local merchants donated items to the auction, such as tickets to the West Virginia Symphony, dinner at Prime 44, a Swedish massage, a health club membership, a Pandora bracelet, handmade items and antiques. 

Simmerman, now a second-year student, said the funds raised for the trip are extremely important to the Dominican people. “For a majority of these people, we are the only source of health care they have for the entire year. They rely on us to visit annually. You develop a deeper appreciation for the U.S. health care system after you experience a third-world country health care system.”

The WVSOM Center for International Medicine and Cultural Concerns offers the opportunity for the PAX (International Peace) Club to experientially learn about practical and specialized global medicine through hands-on programs. The objective is to develop culturally aware, sensitive and knowledgeable osteopathic physicians.

Monetary gifts are still being accepted on the club’s donation website: