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  Volume 3 | Issue 10 | March 13, 2011 |


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Going Global

Saufest Beyond Boundaries

Stawb Peter Halder

Courtesy: South Asian University

The fifth South Asian University Youth Festival (SAUFEST-5 2010) hosted by BRAC University lit up to witness an amazing array of cultural exchange. Earlier this year, BRAC University organised the first BRAC U Inter University Youth Festival, which paved the way to selecting the best performers from Bangladesh in categories of dance, singing, public speaking and sketching. On December 23, 2010 the Savar campus of BRAC University opened its gates to SAUFEST 5. With a promise of 'Friendship Forever', Bangladesh began its first foray as the SAUFEST host where various participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka registered for various cultural activities. The festival was organised by BRAC University Bangladesh, under the aegis of Association of Indian Universities (AIU). Event partners of the festival are BRAC, Aarong Milk, Aarong, BRAC Bank, Channel I, Nescafe, South Asia Foundation (SAF) and Bashati Consortium.

Courtesy: South Asian University
Courtesy: South Asian University

In the inaugural session, Dr. Dipu Moni, Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, declared SAUFEST-5 upon three beats of the dhol. Prof. Zainab Faruqui Ali, Director of Student Affairs, BRAC University delivered the welcome address. Prof. Ainun Nishat, Vice Chancellor of BRAC University took the chair as Chief Guest, while special guests of the inauguration ceremony included Mr. Syed Maseeh Atef, 1st Secretary of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Mr. Sanjay Bhattacharya, the acting High Commissioner of the Republic of India, H.E. Mr. Adam Hassan, the First Secretary of the High Commission of Republic of Maldives, H.E. Mr. Ashraf Qureshi, Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and H.E Mr. Sarath K. Weragoda, the First Secretary of the High Commission of Democratic Social Republic of Sri Lanka.

Following a cultural show named “Paarbon” presented by the students of BRAC University, highlighting the major cultural festivals of Bangladesh, the honorable minister inaugurated a photography exhibition on Bangladeshi culture and heritage, organised by BRAC University Photography Club.

From Day 2, early every morning, Yoga Guru Mr. Sanjeev Menon engaged all volunteers and participants into a session of tranquil Yoga exercises. Day 2 consisted of painting, sketching, classical music and public speaking sessions. The topic of public speaking was 'South Asia's Facebook for Tomorrow”. Mr. Mabroor Wassey, Chair of Bangladesh Debating Council (BDC) was present as the moderator for the event. Teachers along with students joined hands and enjoyed the typical game of Bangladesh, hari bhanga in between these two events.

Courtesy: South Asian University

Day 3 of SAUFEST 5 started off with quite a blast as eight teams from the participating countries took on the three quiz masters in an intellectual battle over the neighboring countries' customs and facts. To spice it up, a pitha utshab was also arranged. Traditional games like ring toss and balloon shooting were accompanied by delightful rides on the nagor dola, while films enjoyed through a bioscope and a stall for face painting lent the atmosphere with a festive look.

Courtesy: South Asian University

Day 4 saw classical and folk dancing. The team members of Royal University of Bhutan, wearing Snow Lion masks mesmerised the audience with their “Drametsi Nga Chaham” or “Peace and Harmony Dance” which they partake in their religious events with the hope to destroy all evils. The group dance combined various genres of dance. The memorable evening continued with a Rajasthani folk dance performed by the participants of Banasthali University, India. Students from Afghanistan surprised the audience with their dance based on the legendary “Attan”- an exercise routine that was performed by the ancestors of Afghanistan before a sword fight. Punjabi University, India concluded the evening with a Bhangra mix, where the audience joined in.

Courtesy: South Asian University
Courtesy: South Asian University

BRAC University Photography Club arranged a slide show of pictures taken during the events during the first four days. On the second last night of the festival, a camp fire was greatly enjoyed by all the participating students, helping to create lasting friendships. During Popcorn Night, after a day of lively cultural exchanges, students relaxed and had fun with an English movie screened for all on all the four nights they spent and worked together.

On Day 5, participants went on a tour around Dhaka city while the organising volunteers and faculty members of BRAC University prepared for the closing ceremony of what had been four very special days. The closing ceremony was graced by the presence of Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, Honourable Minister for Information and Cultural Affairs. Also present as chief guest was the esteemed former Vice Chancellor of BRAC University, Dr. Jamilur Reza Choudhury. Other dignitaries included the current Vice Chancellor of BRAC University Prof. Ainun Nishat, Mr. Sampson David, representative of Association of Indian Universities and Prof. Zainab F. Ali, Director of Student Affairs, BRAC University. The guests handed out crests and certificates to all the participants along with the 'Commendable performance' award. The team from Sri Lanka took home the award of the best team.

A week of friendship, festivities and fun concluded on December 29 a date that will undoubtedly remain in the minds of all those who were involved in SAUFEST 5!

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