BRACU excels in South Asian Youth Festival
Tanzina Rahman and Sarah Z H
There was a sense of pride and amiability among the participants of the best team of 4th South Asian Universities Youth Festival (SAUFEST), as they gathered around a round table and began to share their glorious moments in the SAUFEST competition. We were certain that the team not only brought reverence to our nation but also brought the international arena at our door.
Fourteen members from BRAC University took part in this year's SAUFEST festival, hosted by Panjab University in Chandigarh, India. A total of 29 teams representing universities from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka participated in this esteemed cultural event.
The Monipuri performance
The team acquired 'Best Team of the Festival' award while Nazia Ahmed, one of the outstanding vocalists on the team, won an individual award as the 'Best Vocalist of the Festival'. In music catergory - Adrita Anwar and S.M. Miftahuzzaman sang a duet of Tagore's 'Bela jey jaye' and 'Bhalobashi' while Ahmed Bin Parvez sang 'Shorbonasha Padma Nodi'. In debate category, Fahim Mostafa and M. Sanjeeb Hossain debated with each other and debaters from other countries on the topic 'Youth is the most potent force to establish peace in South Asia'. Tamanna Zaman Khondoker and Shabnam Mostafa performed in the dance category while there was also a mime piece by Syed Parvez Imran and Md. Mehedi Hasan Tusar that showed no matter how powerful a country might be, bad times often arrive unexpectedly, and it is the neighbor - big or small - comes forward with a helping hand. Md. Amjad Hossain Siddique offered his instrumental expertise with many of the performances of the BRAC team members.
Nazia on the Valedictorian perfromance
“After seeing our performance in the last festival, the SAUFEST committee sent us an invitation this year,” said this year's team leader and assistant professor of the School of Law in BRAC University Dr. Tureen Afroz.
“The criteria that we excelled in this competition were that we managed to participate in almost every event this time around. The fact that we were able to perform in so many events and categories was our strongest point, compared to the other universities who consisted of 20 members or so and only three or four students out of them were participating in each category. But from our team, each and every individual took part in various categories. This showed that the fact of being a small team didn’t matter since we were very versatile,” Dr. Tureen affirmed.
"Furthermore, our theme selection process was also one of the reasons behind winning the 'Best Team of the Festival' award. We wanted to portray our culture. Other participants who were taking part in this competition came in SAUFEST after vigorous fights and winning the national competitions. So our challenge was that we had to come up with a distinct idea that will exceed their performance,” she added.
The team started with a tribute to all the countries who were participating in this event by introducing fusion as their starting performance. Shabnam Mostafa, an architecture student of BRAC University was the first performer to stage a sensational classical dance performance to Nelly Furtado's 'Powerless'.
“The moment was very nerve-racking when I was thinking how I'm going to perform for the first time in a fusion song. But when Tureen miss told me the meaning of this song and my performance, which was to portray the audience about the merging of different cultures, I instantly found the courage in me to render the best on stage” said Shabnam.
Dr. Tureen also discussed with us about the hosting strategy.
“Most of the time the item of the performance seems very good but the introduction of it becomes rather vague when the performer is being introduced by an unknown host to come on stage and perform. Plus there is always a problem regarding language. When interpreted to a different language the audience may miss that articulate tone of the theme. So this time around we asked the authority to give us the responsibility and a slot to announce our own performers on stage and introduce them to the audience the way we wanted them to portray. We explained the theme of each performance to draw their attention accordingly. The Indians appreciated the fact that we have induced western culture but still have maintained our own.”
On the third day, the committee was deciding on the debate topic where they threw a challenge for the Bangladesh team to compete with Nepal. “Even though we agreed to face the challenge for we had two international debaters in the team, Fahim and Sanjiv, the committee changed their mind and agreed to have an open debate on ' Youth is the most potent force to establish peace in South Asia'. The participants from different institutions presented their views for or against the topic," said Dr. Tureen.
Nazia Ahmed, who performed the famous folk number 'Haar Kaala' shared her thoughts about her performance.
"From my experiences with live performances, I have always seen that no matter how simple the song is, a huge part of reaching the audience's heart depends on presentation. So when the curtains opened, the audience instantly seemed to have spotted the change I was trying to bring. The combination of Guitar, Tabla and the power of our folk song probably hit just the right chords that night" Nazia explained, which turned out to be very true when the best vocalist award was announced on the award giving ceremony and the auditorium cheered her name in unison.
“BRAC University was the only one that came up with a band number. We actually saw the audience go to a whole different level after a week of traditional numbers from all the participants with Ayub Bachhu's 'Shei Tumi',” said Salman Raihan, who was accompanied by Mifta and Amzad (external), while sharing his thoughts about his performance on light vocals.
Mifta on light vocals performed a modern song that he composed himself, written by one of the team members Tushar that they performed in the last day. Other teams from India, Nepal and others came up with amazing performances in the festival as well. They performed their local dances that consisted of both acrobatics and music blended in with fine expertise by the talented performers.
BRAC University team shared with us their fun moments at SAUFEST trip as well, and believe it or not, there was 'monkey business' involved!
"The thing about Punjab University was that it was very environment friendly. We could say that by seeing how much they catered the monkeys that wandered around the campus without any fear or shyness. There were times we literally got into fights with them to rescue our clothes that hung in the balcony! Interestingly enough they would start imitating our moves and in the process terrorized they're way through the dorms!" said Fahim.
"That was the boys' dorm, but back in the girls' dorm the corridors were terrorized by three black dogs strolling up and down at night times," added Nazia.
Chandigarh is one of the most planned cities in the continent and is very famous for its architectural monuments. The Punjab University organized a tour for the teams on the 5th day to show their famous Rock garden and Shukhna Lake.
"There was vegetarian food all throughout the event, as such we were craving for non veg by the end of the 4th day. We all took rickshaws and wandered around the city in search of non-veg food," said Nazia.
The BRACU team made the best of friends with the Nepalese team. The reason for such strings to attach was simply because of their kindness and heartwarming hospitality towards them. "Some of us who went to the last SAUFEST in Kathmundu University made best of friends with them last year, which is probably why this year it felt like home with them around us, helping and cheering us all throughout" said Nazia and Salman.
So on the last day these two teams from Bangladesh and Nepal performed a group song that almost brought the audience to tears by 'light a fire' composed by the Nepali Team.
Right before coming back, the gang went out for a shopping spree where the most talked about mishap took place. Parvez, one of the team members accidentally lost his passport on his way to the market. Even though it created quite a chaos among the team, the assistant team leader Shajjad Hossain got everything under control and went back to Delhi with Parvez to start with the process of immigration.
“With the initiative of Dr. Tureen Afroz, next year we are planning to host SAUFEST here in Bangladesh for the first time,” said director of student advisor of BRAC University Shama Z Ali.
To honor them team’s huge achievement in SAUFEST, a special BRAC University bulletin will be also published next month.