On 28th July 2021, Berjaya University College (BUC) hosted a one-day Virtual Inter-Cultural Festival titled ‘Road Trip Across Malaysia’, as part of its Erasmus+ FRIENDS project. FRIENDS, a three-year project funded by the European Union, aims to promote modernisation, accessibility and internationalisation of higher education in partner countries across the world, including Asia.
The event kicked off with a short note from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ahmad Othman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor “As we will be celebrating Malaysia’s 64th independence day at the end of August, this festival is timely to showcase some of our cultural diversity through food and heritage,” said Professor Ahmad.
Throughout the entire day, a variety of virtual events such as talks, videos, cooking demonstrations to name a few showcased a discovery of Malaysia’ food culture and heritage were shared with staff, students and invited guests. Chef Alex Chia, from the Faculty of Culinary Arts, gave a webinar session on Malaysia’s food heritage. He explained, “food in Malaysia is one of the drawing factors that brings people together. The mixture of locally grown aromatic herbs, spices mixed with homemade pastes and coconut milk evokes memories of our forefathers’ cooking.” He presented some of the popular cuisine and its preparation from different states in Malaysia. Several videos by students displaying their interpretation of cultural diversity were also shared. There was also a lively interactive Tea Tarik session where a number of people shared their views and thoughts about Malaysia’s diverse culture, followed by a lively Indian dance performance and live singing of Indonesian folk songs by BUC students.
The afternoon session kicked off with a talk on ‘Food as a Cultural Identity’ by Ms. Sherra Yeong, the book author of ‘Local Outsider’. She talked about the revelations of Malaysian life from the point of view of a local but an outsider. She also did comparison of food ingredients used in local Chinese cuisines and what differentiates between all this. The highlight of this event was the session with His Excellency Michalis Rokas, the Ambassador and European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Malaysia as well as a presentation by Mr. Adrian Veale of the EU Commission Brussels on the ‘Key EU Internationalisation Initiatives and Educational Exchanges as Affirmative Actions’. In his opening remark, His Excellency Rokas mentioned the importance of Internationalisation and how through EU initiatives, has assisted many Higher Education Institution in Asia. Mr Adrian in his presentation, outlined all the initiatives that the EU has in Asia particularly in Southeast Asia. He also posed a pertinent question on how the FRIENDS project can facilitate the process of Internationalisation on virtual platform especially during this pandemic.
The virtual festival ended with Dr. Molly KP Anandan giving a step-by-step cooking demonstration for healthy and hearty mutton varuval (dry curry) dish using some of the local herbs and spices. A total of more than 200 participants from BUC and invited institutions attended one or more sessions during the virtual intercultural festival organised by Berjaya UC FRIENDS team.
The Berjaya UC Erasmus+ FRIENDS Virtual Intercultural Festival 2021 was also featured in the August 2021 edition of EU Delegation to Malaysia monthly newsletter. It can be accessed here.