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Thursday November 22, 2012

Colourful Asian showcase

STUDENTS and visitors alike enjoyed a whirlwind ‘tour’ around the region after sampling various traditions, specialities and delicacies at KDU College Penang’s Asian Cultural Exhibition 2012.

The myriad of handicraft and garment displays, traditional games, as well as cuisine, were emblematic of the rich and diverse heritage of different countries around Asia, among them Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

Organised by second year students of the Northumbria University — KDU College Penang Communication and Public Relations programme, it was aimed at fostering deeper understanding of other cultures amongst the local community.

The half-day showcase, held on Nov 7, also highlighted the Pearl of the Orient’s unique status as a melting pot of cultures, and was supported by the Penang government.

At the opening ceremony, college principal Dr Chong Beng Keok reiterated the importance of preserving culture and traditions, as they are legacies that span across the ages.

“Each culture has its own significance, as it is the identity of an individual. It forms bonds amongst individuals in society as they share common beliefs.

“We also learn to respect each others’ cultures by understanding our differences. Not only should we be proud of our own backgrounds, we should also embrace and respect the cultures of others,” she said.

Dr Chong ended her speech by quoting Mahatma Gandhi, saying ‘no culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive’, adding that Malaysia’s diversity lends to increased cross-cultural communication that can only enrich people’s daily lives.

Project director Khoo Kay Min said the variety of Malaysian traditional games was a noteworthy highlight, with many opting to try out olden day pastimes like congkak, gasing (spinning top), guli (marbles), batu Seremban (7 stones) and sepak bulu ayam (shuttlecock kicking).

“These games will definitely allow local Malaysians to recall their childhood memories. It is also a platform to introduce and get foreigners acquainted with our culture.”

Many visitors gravitated to the Asian traditional costume booth, where they were able to try on various garb and have their photos taken, with one lucky participant walking away with the Best Dressed title and a mini camera at the end of the day.

Event organising committee members Denise Chuang and Lavonne Seow were also seen checking out the Chinese clay dolls stall where an array of intricately handcrafted figurines of mythical characters stole the limelight.

“It was an eye-opening showcase, with many things that I had never seen until today, like the Nyonya beaded shoes. I was also able to try out several new delicacies,” said Chuang.

Among the other 20 exhibition booths set up around the campus foyer were those featuring Malay, Nyonya and Indonesian clothing, Indian Henna art, and Japanese origami.

Throughout the day, famous dance group Parazee entertained the crowd with a variety of dances - from the infamous K-pop sensation Gangnam Style, to whimsical, cultural numbers.

Singaporean actor Henry Thia also made a brief guest appearance, much to everyone’s surprise and delight. The cameras and smartphones were out in a hurry, as enthusiastic students wasted no time in snapping photographs of him.

There was also a lucky draw, offering prizes like ZE:A concert tickets, G Hotel food vouchers and hampers.

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