“Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
On October 14, 2018, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences successfully completed its 40th birthday and celebrated its first ever ‘International Cultural Festival’ at the premises of the Yanqihu Campus. The festival rejoiced the entire UCAS family including international students from over 24 countries showcasing their booth highlighting their culture, customs, history, tourism, music, delicacies, costumes, cultural dance, etc. The theme of the festival entitled as “UCAS 40 years advancing with science & progressing with openness”. The anniversary fiesta included an opening ceremony, cultural exhibition, and cultural performance in order to provide a platform for national and foreign talents to demonstrate their talents, and skills on the stage. Moreover, for those who dream to travel around the world and broaden their horizon, it was a chance in millions to find a global village at the premise of the beautiful UCAS Yanqihu Campus.
The event marked the first step to its initiation with an official opening ceremony which was also addressed by Hon’ble Vice President of UCAS, Prof. WU Yueliang along with some renowned scientists as a family of UCAS alumni.
(Bai Chunli's opening speech)
Including the honorary president of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Prof. Bai Chunli, the representatives of more than 40 domestic and foreign universities, people from all walks of life who have long been concerned about supporting the progress and betterment of UCAS, retired veterans of the university, alumni representatives at all levels and teachers and students at school, gathered in Yanqihu Campus. The Yucai Pavilion held the memorial meeting of the 40th anniversary of the founding of UCAS. The commemorative meeting was chaired by the deputy secretary of the party committee of Chinese Academy of Sciences and also the vice president, Dong Junshe. The whole conference was broadcast live to the whole world through Xinhuanet and live broadcast was also provided on the official website of UCAS.
(Philip John Binning, Chairman of the Danish Committee of the National Science and Technology Center (SDC) and the Vice President of the Technical University of Denmark)
Prof. Philip John Binning, Danish Board of SDC (Sino-Denmark College) congratulated UCAS for its 40th anniversary and pointed out the significance of China-Denmark relationship in the contribution to both these countries. He also mentioned the excellence of UCAS in the present generation’s research and innovation in the multi-disciplinary areas of concern.
(Alumni on behalf of the 1978 graduate student, Ma Zhongyu)
Not only UCAS holds a very old iconic history of over 40 years, but it also takes the life-long contribution of its alumni, which has set a platform for the university for groundbreaking successes in the coming future. The highly qualified and dedicated professors, scientists, academicians, and staffs, and a diversified mass of students from nook and corners of the globe with a common hope to ‘bring the change & serve the humanity’ has paved a tremendous way for the university in order to proceed coming years with a further improvement and stand up-to-the-mark to the sea of visionary goals UCAS brings.
Learning a new culture does not only introduce new things to you, but it also helps you learn ‘a way of life’ and broadens our insight to view the world as ‘a common home of all’.
How beautiful the world would have been if we have not been separated according to the religions, cultures, skin color, ethnicities, and all other materials, etc.? This is the time to strive for a change, a change to bring “Unity in Diversity”. We are stronger together, who aspire to create a better place for all to live in. UCAS family wishes to move ahead, and strengthen its openness and globalization in the coming years. This is just a start to a bigger goal, a common goal, where we need YOU.
UCAS is the next doorstep towards your dream. Started to enroll international students back in 2004, currently, UCAS has enrolled students from over 100 different nations supported by ‘Belt & Road Initiative’, the Chinese government, and other units. This strategy has given birth to two different spectra, one is an exchange of EAST-WEST culture, understand China and Chinese better, and contribute to a good cause and promote cross-culture benefits to all.
GLIMPSES OF THE CULTURAL PERFORMANCE SHOW
Kenya is full of diversity of numerous tribes, and ethnicities. The passionate and dedicated performers from Kenya displayed an outstanding dance performance on a mix of traditional Kenyan songs, which is usually performed during cultural festivals such as harvest, marriage, etc. The dance comprises of three tribal dances in Kenya such as Maasai, Luhya, and Gikuyu. It was meant for celebrations in those three different communities giving thanks to what they prayed for. It was generally inspired by the welcoming nature of Kenyan communities who always are happy when something good happens or even when guests arrive they have special dishes for guests and foods too which can't be used daily. So, it celebrates good things that a visitor might bring with him/her.
One of the well-known Chinese song ‘月亮代表我的心 ‘known as ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’, yet again was performed by Danish guys, straight from Denmark. Their melodious & soulful voice and the heart-touching lyrics of the song mesmerized the crowd. Many of the audiences waved the hands and join in singing.
A group of students from Pakistan waved on to the stage dressed into different costumes and outlook that represents their cultural diversity within a diverse nation. Pakistan is a home to five different provinces and each province is unique in terms of their customs, traditions, culture, dance, food, dress, etc. The ramp walk astonished everyone and made the audience familiar about their diversity in music, dance, and dress from one province to another. They moved the audience through their high-beat, and synchronized dance moves in a Punjabi song.
Pakistani students showed a ramp show that included traditional costumes of Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan, Baluchistan, Azad Jammu Kashmir and they additionally demonstrated traditional dance of Azad Jammu Kashmir and Punjab.
If you want to understand China, first try to understand Chinese people better. Because in the world at the 21st century, when some countries have been doomed in the western culture, China still preserves its deep history of civilization, and its old culture, philosophy, and traditions, and customs that are showcased by Chinese people. Well, Chinese ‘Han Clothing Group’ performed a wonderful dance performance on ‘Missing Tale’ theme that puts China’s rich culture and Chinese society. The song is a story of a typical Chinese style and the students performed it by dancing in a traditional costume of Han nationality. The story is about a painter who was extremely obsessed with drawing carp. He had some very sturdy feelings about carp, and he used to draw every day and feed fish every day. Once upon a time, a fire broke into his house, but he was reluctant to leave the house as he could not take the carp away. Suddenly, when the fire was about to burn him, he saw a man escorting him away safely. The next day, when we woke up, he found out that the pond was dried, and there was no carp anymore. He suddenly realized that the man who saved him that day was the carp.
Do you know that Thailand is known as a “Land of Smiles”? Few things which put Thailand as one of the most visited countries on the list are its richness in arts and culture, well-preserved traditions, super tasty delicacies, beautiful landscapes, and sceneries. The Thai students performed the ‘Thai l-san Classic and Scepter Dance’ which represents the classical and traditional form of Thai dance and reflects the beautiful lifestyle full of romance and love. This type of dance is known as "Sueng isan" in the Thai language and is very famous in the Northeast part of Thailand. Farmers after a tiresome day of hard work harvesting rice crops, they take some time to gather around and perform such dances as a part of joys together.
The traditional folk dance dates back to ancient Egypt, as images on temple walls depict the game and its rules. "The pride of men" is how people refer to the dance in upper Egypt, where the tradition has been preserved over the generations. “Tahteeb” is a dance performed by males, usually involving two people, each holding a stick, who dance to the rhythm of a drum beat or special music. This unique dance is an enchanting physical conversation between the two dancers, who move in a coordinated waltz of sorts that displays a vivid tableau of skills, talent, and flexibility.
Kazakhstan is a large country located at the heart of Eurasia, where antiquity co-exists with modernity, and east meets the west in the daily lifestyle. The soulful music blended with artistic dance moves explains it all how rich they are culturally as well as historically. The dance is named as “Kazakh Kyu Alhysa Balbirauin, Sanduhax Moldabay”, and the musical instrument used for this dance was a special Kazakh national musical instrument “Dombra”. The song referred to as “traditional Kazakh kui” which means the traditional Kazakh music with the song.
“Incredible India”; you might have heard this phrase many times. Let me explain what makes it incredible. India is a home to over 1.3 billion belonging to many religions, and ethnicities within each territory. Indian students displayed the outstanding dance and music performance in a very unique and mesmerizing through their unique and energetic dance moves, and charming musical flute and piano performance. The free dance moves of a typical Bollywood song and traditional south Indian dance performance moved the audience.
Rwanda is a beautiful country with amazing people and diverse cultural backgrounds. The Rwandan students performed a traditional Rwandan dance which is associated with praising the king in the ancient pre-historic time at the palace. The song reflected the way of Rwandan people and outlook of their cultural, and social status.
Traditional Uzbekistan dance is typically a narrative of a story or an event, rather than of self-expression, and its wide repertoire shows the importance of dance to its culture.
Dressed into profoundly elegant costumes, Mongolian students performed a wonderful Mongolian folk song and dance named as “Mirage of Faraway Land”. Meanwhile, the melody and dance performance represent the spiritual being and the colorfulness of Mongolian cultural heritage and the brave warriors and insightful queens worship the eternal blue sky. Generation of the great conquerors shows respect to nature as spreading the peace and harmony through the aesthetic music with melodious voice as well as vibrant dance together. Although many people might not have understood the meaning of the song, the melody, and synchronized and pleasing dance moves entertained everyone and it caught the sight of the audience.
The word āyubōvan (ආයුබෝවන්) is a Sinhalese word which means “Salutation wishing the recipient a long life, typically as a greeting or a goodbye. Sri-Lanka is not only a beautiful and welcoming country for travelers, it but also a home of people who have a deep enthusiasm and folk music and dances. A series of traditional Sri-Lankan dance performances won the hearts of many. Modern Sri Lankan music was made meaningful with contemporary dancing with a touch of drama. Moved on to showcase the color fullness of a traditional Sri Lankan wedding. The happiness and joy in a wedding was shown in the act and heard in the music. Ended with a patriotic song and traditional dancing to show our love towards Sri Lanka our country our land our nation our home.
Nigeria is a very famous country and well-known for its lively and deep culture. Nigerian students performed a traditional Nigerian drama performance with “Hausa-Fulani” dance. It is based on an ancient tradition where the most resilient suitor wins or takes possession of the bride. Since the bride is usually a prominent and beautiful figure, she could only get married to the strongest and resilient man in the kingdom who is capable of defending his family. Interestingly, it is a prestige to get married at an early age in the Fulani tribe.
A new day begins with “Mingalabar”. Myanmar has been existing by itself and well-known by revealing the glorious Buddhist buildings, beautiful nature, diverse flora and fauna, hospitable culture since the ancient time. Greeting “Mingalabar” with an open smile to get through a new day.
Nepal is certainly one of the most beautiful countries you have ever heard. Its old cultural, traditions, beautiful landscapes, delicious food recipes, unique triangular flag, and beautiful costumes make it a special nation to travel. Nepalese girls performed a spectacular dance performance on several Nepalese songs belonging to three different communities, typical Nepali, Tamang Selo, and Newari songs. Even though the country is small in size and overall population, it has got a great diversity within the country.
It was certainly a great day for the entire UCAS family as it provided a great platform for cross-cultural exchanges. Such kind of events will further strengthen the relationship between China and abroad, and as UCAS aims to continue its excellence in the field of co-operative research and innovation. It also helps students to learn about different countries, and broaden their horizon, which surely helps them to be a better version of a person, who can contribute to the society irrespective of their ethnicities, castes, colors, and creeds.
Let us congratulate UCAS on its 40th birthday, and wish many more successes in the coming future.
Some additional glimpses
I would like to thank below-mentioned people who provided me with some information and background story behind their country’s performances for this post.
Note: There may be some kind of errors during an explanation of contemporary cultural issues. This post has nothing to do with any person’s personal harms, and rather it’s just based on author’s own understanding of different cultures depending upon his personal knowledge and interaction with people from different backgrounds. The idea of this article is just to reflect what happened during the 2018 International Cultural Festival at UCAS based on author’s own observation and knowledge while attending the event.
Author: Pralhad Gupta
Photographed by: Pralhad Gupta, Yang Tp