I Love Culture Festival 2013: A celebration of cultural diversity.

When twilight fell and full moon rose, our lanterns swayed in the wind with soft music floating in the night. The aroma of the luscious cuisine filled the space of the Northern Courtyard. There, we saw a long line of culture lovers with plates ready in their hands. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to taste the exotic cuisine on offer, but who wouldn't be! Thanks to the culinary talents of our wonderful volunteers, there was a whole roasted goat, Indian Naan Bread with curry, Papadams, Chicken Biriyani, Kenyan Ugali, Butterflied Peri Peri Chicken, Chilli Chicken Stir-Fry, Pad Thai, Thai Green Curry, Bhutanese Potato Curry, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, plus dishes from Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Not so surprisingly, they were gone in the blink of an eye. It was a truly delightful banquet! “Best $2 ever,” we heard someone exclaim to his friend. That was true, indeed. The total cost to students was only two dollars (five dollars without a concession). No wonder we had over 300 students, staff and community members attend our mini festival!

After much anticipation, Koru, the Thai wonder boy, kicked off the evening’s entertainment with a high energy song and dance number that had the whole audience cheering. He was soon followed by a cutting-edge Japanese martial arts demonstration, a charming Saudi Arabian dance, an all-around-fun Vietnamese bamboo dance, a graceful Chinese dance, an enthralling Bengali dance, and a mystical Bollywood dance. Somewhere along the line, Sewa Emojong, one of the coordinators of the AIA Buddy Program, initiated an impromptu dance in the centre of the courtyard which, after watching for a bit, we all joined in. The evening was a blast, and it was filled with high spirits and smiles everywhere we looked.

However, we didn’t just dance our night away; we also got to indulge in music from around the world. Multiple live music bands took to the stage, and the sound was so captivating it put us all in a trancelike state. We had bands with members from East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, China and Australia. Our singers were also on par with the band, definitely top-of-the-range, hailing straight from Bangladesh and Bhutan.

At the end of the night, when full moon rose high above our heads, a cross-cultural Thai-Bhutanese acoustic performance officially concluded our night with a love song. A song from the Land of the Thunder Dragon which cried, ‘Don’t go faraway. Come back, come back’. The guitar was mellow, and the voices were sweet.

Even though the festival was officially over, many of our fellow culture enthusiasts were still eager for it to continue. Gangnam Style was then blasted through our sound system, and everyone mumbled through the song before belting out, ‘Hey, sexy lady’ in a joyous harmony. For a short while, our stage was also converted into a mini karaoke session when the guys went up and sang about sunshine and rain, getting all hands to wave, and bodies to sway like it was a rock concert.

“It was the most amazing night,” one of the girls said to us. She was there from the beginning to the very end, so we were sure she knew what she was talking about. It was indeed our most amazing and biggest event yet, and we couldn’t have done it without our generous sponsors, staff, volunteers and various student organisations. It really shows that, when we join hands for a singular cause, we can achieve even the greatest of our imagination.

Last but not least, we would like to thank and congratulate all culture lovers who rocked up on the night. Nothing said ‘I love culture’ better than a full courtyard of people from all over the world gathering and having fun together! If you missed out on the 2013 I Love Culture Festival, never fear, as it is now officially an annual event on our calendar! In the meantime, there are still many more fun events that we at the AIABP have in store, so watch this space, or keep in touch with us at www.facebook.com/AIABuddyProgram for instant updates on our latest activities. We look forward to seeing you all again soon!

- Melalin Mahavongtrakul

VC’s Welcome Dinner - Wright Village

Neurofeedback at UNE