Turner Sims became the location for an exotic jumble of international cultures last Tuesday when the International Cultural Night took place. The event was organised by the International Committee under the lead of the International Officer Umair Tariq Siddiqi. Together with Djamila Silva, the Public Relations Coordinator at the International Committee, he acted as the night’s presenter, introducing the different participants and quizzing the audience. He explains the planning behind the event:
‘The International Committee has been planning this event for the last 6 months and everyone on the committee played a major role in the event. It wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s support.’
Eight societies contributed with performances relating to their own cultures, and the performances ranged from videos and dances to poem readings and songs. The Director of the International Office, Ms. Jo Doyle, the VP Welfare and Communities, Frankie Fry, and the Equality and Diversity Officer, Chloe Green, were judges to decide which society should win first, second and third prices.
The two hour long event presented a variety of cultures from all over the world. There was a showcase of 2,000 year old instruments by the Chinese Society, and the Indian Society contributed with a dancer’s flirty and gymnastic execution of a Bollywood choreography. The performance was met by resounding applauds and whistles. The African Caribbean had a fashion show in which they presented colourful clothes and African dances.
The Vietnamese Society’s performance ‘How I See You’ included, for example, traditional dances with the iconic straw hat. The Vietnamese audience celebrated and applauded to each of the performances, chanting ‘Vietnam’ as the dancers walked off the stage. The Pakistan Society contributed with traditional dances with the dancers dressed in local clothing. Playing on a national drum the society encouraged the audience to come down and dance with them.
Sadly, the audience was not always quiet. A student tells of her reactions of the event:
‘I loved the local instruments played by the Chinese, Pakistan and Indonesian societies. But it is irritating that the audience cannot show respect for other societies. I could sometimes not even hear the performances.’
The audience was consistently noisy when the Mexican Society showcased a video and explained the flag arms. The same happened when the Indonesian Society performed on wooden, village instruments from Java and recited a famous poem.
Despite the irritating noise, the event was a well-organised and much-appreciated event. The audience was responsive and interactive with the performing societies, and supported each other with shouts and clappings. Before giving out the night’s prizes, Frankie Fry described the event as a ‘fantastic performance’. Umair was also impressed with the outcome.
‘I was definitely pleased with the event. It turned out to be much better than we had expected. The show was received very well by the audience too as there was a lot of positive feedback all around.’
As the Pakistan Society received first price, their loud and enthusiastic celebrations went on well after the audience had left Turner Sims. The Vietnamese Society took second place and The Indonesian Society came third.
With a purpose of celebrating the diversity of Southampton’s international students, the International Cultural Night was an impressive manifestation of the international status of the University of Southampton. The songs and dances performed by the different societies showed how vibrant Southampton actually is. It is no wonder that Umair expresses hopes for a similar event next year. This could be the beginning of a new, dynamic tradition at our university. I hope they will serve pizza during the interval next time as well.