Students come together to celebrate diversity

Gantayat (third from left) with his team members and their map of India.

MIRI: Spirits ran high as Curtin Malaysia’s vibrant community of students from over 50 countries came together to celebrate the highly anticipated annual International Festival (Ifest).

Mechanical engineering student Khalpeash Premlall who hails from Sri Lanka said that he hopes to bring the spirit of peace and unity into this year’s celebration.

“In light of the recent happenings back home, which have greatly saddened us, I believe that no matter the racial background, religion and skin colour of a person, humanity comes first,” said Premllal who along with his friends set up a Sri Lankan booth selling Dilmah tea to collect funds for the churches affected by the recent bombings.

Applied geology PhD scholar Rakesh Roshan Gantayat from India said that his team decided to showcase a live monument of India by having team members represent as many Indian states as possible by donning the different state’s traditional attire and providing details on each state’s unique culture.

“It is hard to properly represent the whole of India with a population of 1.3 billion and more than 100 ethnic groups each with their own distinct food, clothes and language,” said Gantayat.

“That is why we decided on a live model to show the diversity we have back home and to get a chance to show our culture and heritage with Ifest as a platform to embrace our differences while celebrating our togetherness,” he said.

Final year chemical engineering student Jerin Thomas from Kuala Lumpur said that he was grateful to be emceeing the event which would be his last before graduating.

Amatri (right) and team members with their ‘Nasi Tumpeng’ exhibit.

“My favourite part of Ifest has always been the fashion show because we can see young people proudly embracing their culture and identity.

“It is an event where we get to be culturally educated while putting aside our differences and just embrace one another as one community,” said Thomas.

Final semester petroleum engineering student Aaron Amatri from Indonesia said that his team chose to showcase “Nasi Tumpeng”, a ceremonial dish as an exhibit for their cultural booth.

“The dish is known as cone rice because of the cone shaped design of the rice at the very top of the dish which would usually be reserved for the host of the event,” said Amatri

“Traditionally served at housewarmings, the size of the cone and the variety of side dishes depends on how prestigious the event is,” he said.

Curtin Malaysia pro vice-chancellor Jim Mienczakowski said that he was proud to see how the international and domestic student body collectively worked together to bring the event to life.

“Our students are what makes Curtin global throughout our campuses across the world, truly making us one of the world’s most international universities,”said Mienczakowski.

Curtin Malaysia pro-chancellor Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said students should use their time here to create lasting friendships and connections with people of all backgrounds and nationalities in order to become global citizens.

Also present at the event were board of directors member Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya, deputy pro vice-chancellor Professor Beena Giridharan and chief operating officer Pieter Pottas.

The international festival which is in its ninth year featured country booths manned by students and cultural performances to showcase Curtin’s diverse community of students and staff from over 50 countries such as the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Australia, Pakistan, India, the Middle East, China and more.


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