Seventeen musicians from Malaysia have spent their week in East Texas with the mission of sharing their culture as well as picking up on East Texas culture.
The musicians are part of the group Diplomats of Drum. The group is currently touring the U.S. as part of the 2014 Caravanserai program. The program is put on by Arts Midwest. The trip is being sponsored locally by the Pineywoods Fine Arts Association.
The mission of the tour is to introduce people to the best Muslim fine arts groups. The tour is traveling to four cities; Crockett, Houston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
Along the way, the artist have learned about the communities they are in. In their short time in Crockett, Rav Singh has learned what it means to live in East Texas.
"Everybody has a truck," Singh said. "We don't get many trucks back home and everybody loves Mexican food. We don't get Mexican food back home. Otherwise, everything is just like what we saw on television."
The diplomats of drum say there may be cultural differences, but they know they always make a connection.
"You can be wherever you are, and you hear the beat of the drum, and that's universal," said manager Satpal Dhillion.
Dhillion said he understands they are part of a tour that promotes the Islamic arts, but said his group is much more than Islamic and wants to change stereotypes.
"We want to share with everyone that you can be as different as you are," Dhillion said. "You can believe in different things; you can be a different color, but if you work together as one, you can create beautiful things. There are 17 of us, belonging to four different ethnicity and five different religions. Even among the band, it's a way for us to understand each other."
The group will be spending their remaining time in Crockett meeting with different school and civic groups as a way to exchange cultures.