By Ciéra Cree & Fatima Lakhani (Indian Society)
This year’s Global Week wrapped-up at the end of February, but what a memorable week that was! Throughout the week, the students were given the opportunity to learn about the many different cultures that contribute to the university’s vast population. There were activities such as organised dances and musical performances, cinema screenings, and food stalls lining the halls of Helmore.
From the week starting on the 24th of February, there wasn’t a day that passed by which didn’t see Helmore Street filled with an abundance of flags, stalls, posters, noticeboards, and the echoing sound of excited voices. Seeing students come together to celebrate our cultural differences and appreciate one another’s cuisine was a truly beautiful sight. Though the performers that stood out to me the most were the members of the Indian Society.
As one of the larger societies based on our home campus, the Indian Society sought to do something great during this year’s Global Week. To pull out all the stops, the society held a variety of events throughout the week, including a well-attended dance and fashion show, a popular food stall and, secretly, a ‘flash mob’ that nobody expected. This was all spearheaded by the warmth and dedication of the society’s President, Avinash Miriyam, and Riya Gadhavi, their Vice President.
The Showcase & The Dance & Fashion Show
The Students’ Union had already organised a showcase event to take place on Tuesday the 25th of February in The Academy, and the Indian Society decided to contribute their aforementioned dance and fashion show to the runnings. Beside them stood members of the K-Pop Society, as well as some independent performers representing countries like Nigeria and Norway.
This was the running order (with an interval between item six and seven!):
- Group Dance – Indian Society
- ‘International Poem’ – Fatima Lakhani
- Fashion Show – Nigerian Students
- Mime Performance – Indian Society
- Group Dance – K-Pop Society
- Music – Indian Society
- Fashion Show – Indian Society
- Norwegian Folk Songs – Mira-Ceti Andreassen
- Music – Desi Society
- Acapella Guitar Performance – Indian Society
- Group Dance – K-Pop Society
Audience members started drifting in after 7 PM on the night, and it wasn’t long before The Academy was jam-packed with people – so many in fact, that it was hard to move. Regardless, what followed were a series of incredible representations of culture, including Fatima Lakhani’s ‘International Poem’ read out in seven different languages. She recounts her experience in the following quote from the night:
‘Honestly speaking, I had no intentions of performing until two days before the event. I feel like it was the best decision I have made this academic year. Standing there made me realise that I had a voice and I could make it heard. It was a series of conflicting emotions… excitement, butterflies, a hint of nervousness. But the moment I stood there, I felt grateful to be able to represent my ideas and relay to people what transcends beyond language and gets lost in words. Sometimes, people get too caught up analysing words they hear that they fail to detect the emotion trying to be conveyed. That is one of the many reasons why I chose to do a poem in several languages.
My poem is from the perspective of an angel who has been observing humans for centuries and raises important questions regarding the working of racism, slavery, lack of rights (women and minority groups) and prevention of females from education (still prevalent in many parts of the world.) I decided to use the guise of an angel, as I myself am a human and therefore accountable for what happens in the human world. Using the angel to present the poem gives us humans an opportunity to look at our world from above and realise our mistakes and correct them.
I have mentioned earlier why I chose the seven languages, regrettably, it had to be only these seven because these are the languages I can talk in without making pronunciation errors. Moreover, using different languages helps connect to different people at different levels. This performance was my effort to do what I should, as a human.
Because I was born and brought up in multicultural societies, I developed a love for learning different languages. I feel like I am a part of each of these societies without being a part of it in reality. This results in the occasional identity crisis. However, performing in all these languages reassured me. For the first time in my life, I felt sincerely happy that I could be a fragmentation of various cultures and voices.’
– Fatima Lakhani
We also have a quote from Lorenzo who danced as part of the K-Pop Society:
‘The global week showcase was really amazing! The show had lots of talented people from all around the world, and it was really cool to see these people from different cultures show off their talents. It was an even more incredible life experience to be in the showcase taking part as a member of the K-Pop Society. It’s something that I won’t forget’.
– Lorenzo Barba, (K-Pop Society)
As billed, the Indian Society performed an impressive group dance to start off the night. It was an early hit that captured the collective attention of the audience, and a well-deserved success considering the number of rehearsals they’d performed prior to the showcase. It was clear to me that the hard work put in by the group of six had shone through.
What followed was a steady stream of excellent performances. The hard work of each performer continued to permeate throughout the night, especially when the audience were treated to several impromptu performances from the likes of Daman Jeet, as well as an extra performance by the Desi Society who danced to Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’.
When the time came to start the Indian Society‘s fashion show, around halfway through the showcase, Avinash took to the stage to say a few words of thanks to the team. Riya, the society’s Vice President, was unable to attend the event, but we were assured that she’d be kept up-to-date on the events.
‘I missed it physically, but I was present virtually!’ – Riya Gadhavi (Indian Society Vice President)
Around twenty performers took turns walking onto the stage each wearing traditional Indian clothing for everyone to admire. There were sarees, traditional sarees, kurta pyjama, and sherwani. With the music in the background, the atmosphere of the room felt very upbeat during this display. Most of the audience members even clapped along to the beat as each performer posed and had their photos taken.
As the night slowly drew to a close, I felt that it was a privilege to have been able to see people expressing themselves and sharing a piece of their culture so openly. For me, this year’s Global Week felt special, and for many others, it shall similarly remain a highly-memorable night for years to come.
‘Working with everyone to make this happen was excellent. It was a great platform to show people a piece of humanity and our lifestyles in a diverse university. Thank you to Abi Dolan, this experience really wouldn’t have been the same without her.’ – Avinash Miriyam (Indian Society President)
Images: Ciéra Cree
Disclaimer: Members of the Indian Society committee made contributions to the production of this article, though it was edited and reviewed by The Ruskin Journal.