On October 29, 2017, Peking University celebrated the annual International Culture Festival (ICF) at the Centennial Lecture Hall. This year’s festival marks the 14th celebration since its establishment and with the theme of “Together as One”, it embraces the hope that students and friends from all corners of the globe can come together to celebrate PKU’s cultural diversity. Students from about 70 countries and territories gathered at the event to represent their unique cultures.
The atmosphere at the opening ceremony was joyful. Many state organizations’ representatives and ambassadors attended, including leaders of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, China Scholarship Council, Hanban, China Education International Exchange Association, Ministry of Education Overseas Study Service Center, and many more. Country representatives from 17 countries, such as Palestine, Pakistan, Syria, Albania, Nepal, and Iceland were also present, together with scholars and artists from both inside and outside China. As a matter of course, the International Culture Festival would not be complete without the presence of teachers and students from the many faculties at Peking University.
At the opening ceremony, Vice President of Peking University Wang Bo spoke first, expressing his delight that Peking University is becoming more and more international. According to Vice President Wang, this year’s festival theme “Together as One” illustrates that young people of different cultural backgrounds have a better chance to interact more with each other. Vice President Wang quoted from Chairman Xi Jinping’s UNESCO speech to emphasize his viewpoint, and also to express his expectation that young people, regardless of nationality, will live and work together in peace and harmony to make the world a better place.
The next speaker was the Palestinian Ambassador to China, Fariz Mehdawi, whose first visit to Peking University was during the 1980s. As someone having seen so many changes in China and this university in particular, the Ambassador encouraged Chinese young people to be proud of their country and identity. He believes China’s development will help solve many major international problems and Peking University, with its diverse and international campus, will be among the world’s top universities.
After that, Dilamo Otore Ferenje, Director of Peking University’s Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development and Director of Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Government Trade Bureau gave his speech. The spirit of cultural tolerance, friendship, respect and unity was once again emphasized, which the director stated the culture festival as an example. He also believes Peking University is a truly global community and expressed gratitude towards Chinese government for helping to support the event.
The opening ceremony featured young voices as well, as two student speakers shared their experiences. One representative was Theresa Stubhan from Germany who is currently studying at Peking University’s Yenching Academy. She shared her personal account of living with Chinese people who she considered her second family, and of studying and working with friends from many parts of the world. She said even though the language barrier and culture differences can cause misunderstandings sometimes, it does not stop people from making friends and growing together.
Another student speaker was a representative from China, Zhang Boyu, a senior student at School of International Studies. In his speech, he talked about his experiences participating in international exchange activities and described his understanding of the spirit of Peking University and the theme of the International Cultural Festival. According to him, the idea of holding an annual international culture fair is from Peking University’s expectation to integrate into a global culture, to understand people and take responsibility to tackle global issues with other international institutions.
The opening ceremony ended with Peking University’s president Lin Jianhua presenting the ICF flag and declaring the opening of the event, as well as students’ wonderful stage performances. The ending of the opening ceremony officially started a day of colorful activities with music, games, singing contests, cultural performances and cultural booths serving local food and giving gifts presented by Peking University international students. Hopefully we will see more cultural activities held at Peking University in time to come.
Writer: Van Cao Mai