Opening ceremony of the 20th Peking University International Culture Festival
Peking University, October 22, 2023: Peking University students and alumni hailing from over 100 countries and regions gathered at the square of the Peking University Hall to celebrate the 20th International Culture Festival (ICF) on Saturday, Oct. 21. The theme for the event this year is "Meeting the World at PKU."
PKU Vice President and Provost Wang Bo, Secretary General of the China Scholarship Council Sheng Jianxue, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the People's Republic of China Archil Kalandia, as well as student representatives, spoke at the opening ceremony.
Wang Bo speaks at the opening ceremony
On behalf of PKU, Wang Bo extended a warm welcome to all the attendees and emphasized the University's unwavering commitment to respecting and embracing diversity. With over 3,000 international students studying at PKU, Wang Bo expressed his hope that the festival will help to foster a multicultural and inclusive campus environment.
Sheng Jianxue lauded the University's success in nurturing batches of international scholars who are familiar with China, deepening China's ties with the world. Archil Kalandia noted that he was happy to see a host of Georgian students studying in China as well as many Chinese teachers who are going to Georgia to teach Chinese.
Student volunteers at the launching ceremony
Following the speeches, the launching ceremony of the PKU International Student Volunteer Service Project was held. Youths from various cultural backgrounds expressed their passion for doing community service in China, promoting the spirit of volunteering.
Flash mob dance by Malaysian students at the Carnival
After the opening ceremony, the International Culture Festival On Campus Exhibition & Carnival officially kicked off, alongside the Carnival and Food Festival. Students from over 100 countries and regions participated in this year's ICF, which featured 50 carnival booths, 16 food booths as well as a series of themed events around campus. The grandeur of the festival marked its 20th anniversary as well as an invigoration in the international student population at the University.
Our student reporters spoke to the students at each booth about their cultures. Let these conversations and snapshots bring us back to the unforgettable ICF experience!
At the Colombian booth, Alejandro Lora warmly introduced the coffee-making culture in Colombia, “Colombia is the world's third-largest coffee producer. In Colombia, we're exposed to coffee at a very young age.”
Wang Binlin, a senior student from the School of Physics, commented that the Colombian booth was his favorite at the carnival. "Colombian coffee is unlike any other kind of coffee I have tried!"
Wu Xiaojun from Thailand showed us some traditional Thai snacks from Thailand, as well as the Ranat Ek, a traditional Thai musical instrument. Being ethnically Chinese, Xiaojun's ancestors migrated to Thailand from Chaozhou, Guangdong Province, which makes him especially attracted to the culture of Southern China.
Thai students presented a Thai song onstage at ICF
Dennis Keller, who took part in the "Future Leaders Program" organized by Guanghua School of Management mentioned that this was his second time at the International Culture Festival. "It's really awesome to see all the cultures come together again after the pandemic." He introduced soft pretzels, a type of traditional German bread, which is available for tasting.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Tan Xinqi, an undergraduate student from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, participated as a volunteer for the United Kingdom booth. “It’s like a dreamy experience to make friends with a lot of British students and to explore more about their hometown,” she said. “Besides, as one of the designers of the punch card voucher, the philatelic book, seeing people taking my works and having fun, a sense of participation and achievement flowing into my heart.”
"If there is one thing the French love, it is to feel the love," was how Chrystelle Dejean Servières from the School of Law described her country. She added, "We were absolutely stunned by how much Chinese people already loved our culture, and by how eager they were to learn even more. Some members of the public even knew all the lyrics to songs from French musicals that we didn't even know! We are so thankful to have been swamped with so much love from the public, this day could not have felt more special."
"Today's cultural festival at PKU served as an excellent platform for us international students to showcase Germany's rich cultural tapestry," Mika, a German student noted, adding that, "From offering a taste of traditional German baked goods to penalty kick challenges, complete with a custom DJ set, the event was a hit. We relished the chance to share our heritage and connect with a diverse crowd, in the meantime also immersing ourselves in other cultures." "(It was a) rewarding experience for all involved."
Henna at the Indian booth
Manohar Kumar from the School of Government said, "In an era where global understanding is more critical than ever, the festival promotes tolerance, acceptance, and harmony. It is a testament to the beauty of diversity and the power of cultural exchange. It demonstrated that despite our differences, we are all interconnected, woven together in the intricate fabric of humanity."
Malaysian students gather for a photo
Liu Entong, a Malaysian student from Guanghua School of Management, introduced the booth of Malaysia, where people can experience traditional activities such as “Henna”, a traditional temporary tattoo painted on the hand. Visitors could also try out traditional costumes and learn about the cultural tapestry of Malaysia. Entong hopes that the students of Peking University will be able to learn more about the culture and beauty of Malaysia.
"It was fantastic and so much fun, especially when PKUers engaged with traditional games, tasted authentic cuisines, watched fascinating performances, and most importantly, had a deeper understanding of different countries' cultures," Khoo Yeu Her, a Malaysian student marveled.
Henna at the Malaysian booth
Sabir Naveed, a Pakistani student at PKU, said during an interview that, "The festival was not just a celebration of Pakistan's culture; it was also a platform for cross-cultural interaction. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with students and artists, fostering a sense of unity and understanding among different cultures." "Every booth was a work of art, meticulously designed to encapsulate the essence of its respective culture, from the intricate detailing to the authentic artifacts on display."
"This event created a memorable and enriching experience, promoting mutual understanding and respect between cultures," said Hisham Barakat, a Bahraini student at PKU.
Republic of Korea
Choi Eunho, a Korean student who is studying at the School of Journalism and Communication introduced the booth of Korea. Visitors can try out a variety of cultural experiences such as playing Korean traditional games, wearing Hanbok, face painting, personal color matching, and learning how to mix soju and beer. She believed that the pride of the ROK is that Koreans have a lot of ways to express affection, such as giving more food and helping others. She hoped that the international students of ROK could make a good impression and set a positive example at Peking University.
Reported and written by: Ricson Lee, Yu Peijia, Wang Ziyu, Son Jiyoon, Sun Yuanyuan, Jawad Shabbir
Photos by: Courtesy of the organizers, Liang Enrui, Yu Peijia, Ma Wenting, Gou Suheng, Zhou Tinglan
Edited by: Wu Jiayun