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Making merry with the multiplicity of cultures at BRAC University

On October 25th and 26th, at the heart of our beloved Mohakhali campus, one of the most memorable events of 2023 was organized by the outstanding student bodies of BRAC University. Sponsored by Adblast, BRAC University Communication and Language Club (BUCLC) in collaboration with BRAC University Multicultural Club (BUMC) took immense pride in establishing a platform where both domestic and overseas students exhibited and enjoyed cultures around the globe through the Cultural Exchange event. The event was graced with the presence of Lady Syeda Sarwat Abed, Founder and director of BRAC Institute of Languages (BIL) and Dr David Dowland, esteemed Registrar of Brac University. The event was further enriched with the arrivals of Emilie Carrey, an inspiring educator, digital content creator and epitome of cultural embracement; Fahim Salam, CEO and Managing Director of Nuport Industrial Automation Ltd; and everyone’s favourite musician Farhat Tarannum. While the fun-filled atmosphere of cultural diversity resonated throughout the Building 2 Indoor Auditorium, the event also featured “Through the Lens of Brilliance,” a photography exhibition and a fair organized in the  Building 6 Indoor Games Room. 

The event unfolded with a drama followed by a Bengali recitation, performed by the team of BRACU Resonance, a bilingual journal by the university students. The drama depicted the navigation and complexities of Mohakhali campus life that an international student goes through along with the stages of cultural shock to cultural acceptance. Shortly after the Auditorium swayed to the tunes of evergreen Bollywood melodies performed by a university student, gripping poetry was recited by Nabil Shams (Senior, SoL) again on behalf of BRACU Resonance. Came up next, was a mesmerizing dance performance by Brac University Research for Development Club (BuReD) which had everyone on the edges of their seats. The second half of the main event began with the words of the esteemed Registrar, Dr. David Dowland followed by the most beautiful segment of songs performed by Farhat Tarannum. Her voice was a merry-making of the Western and Bengali culture as she serenaded the audience with the soothing notes of the popular single by John Denver known as the “Annie’s Song” and with the verses of the Rabindra Sangeet, Majhe Majhe Tobo. It was a sight to behold as the audience was compelled to stand on their toes with their hands clasped in excitement to sing along with Farhat to the lyrics of everyone’s beloved Bengali track, Bela Bose. What came up next, was a testament to the wholehearted embracing of cultures by the BracU international students – a magical dance performance by the multicultural club. “Coming from Denmark where culture is very individualized, the strong sense of community I’ve found at BRAC University has been an incredible gift,” said one of the international students. 

Spoken word poetry performed by Labiba Binte Khaled (content creator, Team Bertho) and Murshidul Alam Bhuiyan (Senior, BBS) and founder of Team Bertho) added a pinch of romanticism to the overall ambience. The third half commenced with appreciation and tokens of recognition presented to Nafim Ahmed, President of BUCLC and Malika Muradi, President of BUMC by the esteemed registrar. And finally came the most awaited speech by Emilie Carrey, which again had the audience stirred up as she enthralled them with snippets of her life in Bangladesh, her struggle to get to grips with the cultural shocks she would face here and there, and lastly her moments of embracing cultural differences. She remarked, “The communal culture of Bangladesh is what makes me feel at home. Bangladesh doesn’t just have a sense of togetherness between friends and families but also collectively.” She concluded by saying that there is a certain power in passion that the students hold and she hopes they never lose it. The next speech was by Fahim Salam, who shared with the students his experiences with living abroad, and the challenges he faced when deviating from his chosen major followed by some advice on academic, career, and personal spectrums of one’s life. After some more culturally diverse and spellbinding performances by BUMC and BUCLC student bodies, the event concluded with an award ceremony to the winners of the photo exhibition, a noteworthy attribute of the Cultural Exchange. The judging body for the photography contest comprised Tanzil Talat Anonto, filmmaker and VFX artist; Nazia Zafrin, filmmaker; and Ashraf Uddin Ahmed, former President of BRAC University Photography Club. 

While the main event raised a toast to embrace cultures and student unity, the fair witnessed a similar crowd and enthusiasm in the Auditorium over the two days. Vendors like Crafts and Spells, Pixels, Kiva Han, Ancient, DIYer, Cakes and Bakes, Comic Candle Collection, Happy Eating, and Qrio had their stalls for showcasing cuisines, clothes, books and more variety of products. The Chinese stall selling hot and fresh dumplings and soup indeed won everyone’s appetite while the two endearing panda mascots won everyone’s hearts, inevitably becoming the centre of attention throughout the fair. “We have displayed our stalls on the premises of BracU before, and it always has been an amazing experience thanks to the students being so friendly and courteous,” observed one of the stall owners. “We are deeply touched by the incredible warmth and support we’ve received from the wonderful community here. Your overwhelming response and hospitality took us by surprise and left us truly humbled,” expressed another.  

“The university should organise more of such events as these help us energise ourselves while breaking free from the academic pressure,” said an international student from Bhutan. Another student opined how programs like the Cultural Exchange help them come together to expand their perspectives by sharing, learning and appreciating the traditions and values of one another. It was a matter of great delight to see how this one event helped establish a sense of community and a strong network between students from various cultures and countries, enhancing their knowledge regarding different cultures, and simultaneously paving the way for more events like this to be organised in the future.  Indeed the synergy between the organising committees and volunteers of BUCLC and BUMC reverberated across the campus, praises and cheers echoed through the mouths of all students and staff, hard work and month-long preparation came to fruition, and impeccable unity was etched upon the premises of 66 Mohakhali.

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