The Pakistan Student Association of University of California, Riverside (UCR) in collaboration with a number of other organizations hosted University of California’s first South Asian Exhibition on 21st January 2016. South Asia and the West are too far from each other in terms of distance to get to know about each other’s cultures, ways of life at the two ends, qualities of people and their religions.
There are certain misconceptions in the minds of people of South Asia, specially Pakistan regarding the West and vice versa, which is primarily due to exaggeration of wrong portrayal of facts by the media. A vague image that is already sketched in the minds of people can be colored vibrant and clear by the International Students Associations in different parts in the West.
The Pakistan Student Association of University of California is one such association which aims to spread awareness about Pakistan in California and convey a positive message through different events.
South Asian Exhibition was hosted in collaboration with the Middle Eastern Student Center (MESC), South Asian Federation (SAF) and other organizations, proved to be a great step forward in portraying the true picture of Pakistan and South Asia to the students in the west.
As the organizers of the event included not just the members of Pakistan Students Association but also MESC and SAF, it highlighted the diversity of cultures and ethnicity in South Asia. The event was a blend of different cuisines, languages, religions and traditions that belong to South Asia. This event provided a platform for people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds to gather in harmony and get to know about the uniqueness of South Asian cultures. It also featured a talk by famous YouTubers Qais Mohammed and The Mahmood Brothers.
To start off the event, the student organizations caught the attention of the visitors by setting up stalls and providing information about their aims and objectives and all the activities that they carry out. For instance, a member of the Sikh Student Association (SSA) stated that they aim to bring awareness about the Sikh religion as well as create a community for Sikh students on campus. Another such team was Project Rural Indian Social and Health Improvement (Project R.I.S.H.I). It claimed to be working on public health and sanitation issues within rural Indian villages. According to co-founder of The South Asian Federation, Ravin Rathod, the SAF decided to co-host the event because the exhibition “aligns with SAF’s goals because it provides a broader outlet for talking about the community.”
While students of different ethnic backgrounds were at their best to convey their message, different religious societies like Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Sikh Student Association (SSA) were also second to none in attracting visitors and explaining their motto.
The South Asian Exhibition also served traditional South Asian appetizers, such as Gulab Jamun, which is a Punjabi delicacy, and samosas. The food was mouth-watering and added an originality to the series of events of the night.
It took some time for the main event to start, which was the lecture by Qais Omar and The Mahmood Brothers. However, the main event was worth the wait because that was the time when the real fun had begun. The presentation lightened the mood of the audience as it consisted of a hilarious skit by Qais and Mahmood. Following the skit was a dance competition by different student groups. The competition had two teams with three individuals in each. However, the dance competition got intense as there was a tie between the groups which went to “the death-round.”
Highlight of the exhibition was the presentation by Qais and Mehmood brothers. The crowd was pretty diverse and the number of students that showed up was far greater than expected. Students made the event successful with their presence. It thus provided an opportunity of networking with other organizations as well which would have a positive impact on education as well.
Overall the exhibition was a success. It was a very well-organized event. Chatting, cheering, feasting and celebrating a common heritage, the event which had started at 6 pm came to an end at 10 pm, leaving colorful trails in the minds of the visitors.
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