International Folk Festival to promote foreign culture and introduce cultural competence to the Chandigarh University students.
Written by Anne-Sophie
Art is often used as a medium for introducing a culture. Culture is beyond what defines a nation. It is a set of beliefs, values and traditions shared by a particular group of people in which they recognize themselves. In a country like India, there is no such thing as the “Indian” culture. India is a very diverse environment with various and very distinctive cultures mixed on a same ground. Punjabis, Hindus, Sikhs, Nepalese diaspora... all living on the same land but offering a large collection of songs, music, dance, traditions, practices and values unique to their own culture.
At Chandigarh University (CU), we are proud to be an international campus and we are excited to display the various range of culture present on our ground. This was the purpose of the 6th International Folk Festival held on November 14th. CU guests of honour, a troupe of Mexican artists, shared the stage with artists from Bhutan, Thailand, Nepal and India as well, and performed songs and dances which offered us a taste of their home culture.
Representing one’s culture and being represented is important for people as this is the highlight of their belonging to a specific group of people. Andrea, a Mexican student at CU, mentioned that while seeing the Mexican performance, she “felt like home”. To her, this performance was a way for Indians and other internationals to “see a part of the culture through which someone recognizes you.” André, Brazilian intern at CU, explained that folklore is also a way to understand where people come from and learn about their traditions and roots. In his mind, what makes Mexicans who they are today are those happy dances and colourful dresses that were exhibited.
If not a problem of feeling part of a community, being exposed to a different culture is a matter of acculturate ourselves and others around us. I, French intern living in India, am exposed to a culture diametrically opposed to mine. I had to re-learn how to dress, behave, be open-minded and understand Indian’s culture and values in order to make my way every day. Ground zero. I start my journey by erasing all I know about India and just throw myself in the Indian jungle. New English, new way of working but same smile. Being culturally aware of those challenges is the key to work with people from diverse cultural background and achieve organizational objectives. However, to most people on campus, it sounds challenging to deal with international students. We are stared at, face language barrier, shyness, loneliness and most of all we are far from home.
Having those short episodes of cultural competence and cultural exposure are as important to foreigners as to the hosting country. Cultural exchanges are the most fulfilling experiences for going global, thing that every country is nowadays facing. Caucasians, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians... We are all worth talking to more than been talking about.