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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 136 | September 13 , 2009|


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A journey to the culture of peace

Mohammad Mainul Islam

THE present decade is viewed by the world society as a turning point in human history. It is the right time to look back over the landscape we have already traveled across and at the same time look forward to map out a path for the future. Transition from a culture of conflict to a culture of peace should be the major goal. To a great extent, peace depends upon our culture and behavior. Peace must be cultured, learned and, above all, put into action in our everyday lives. To build peace, we should act to transform our day-to-day conflicts into pathways of cooperation and understanding. Student life is the appropriate time to learn and practice the values, attitudes and behaviors that enhance this transformation. Peking University- the most prestigious center for quality of higher education in China is a pioneer in this respect as it worked on enriching the lives of international students from more than 80 countries through understanding and cooperation every year and has been running a successful cross-cultural exchange program between China and foreign countries as an annual tradition since 2004. A small displaying area and one day performance could not offer a broad and complete picture of a unique culture, as culture is a complex phenomenon. We must have to confess that culture- a way of life is not easy to explore without own respective settings, but it is a rare opportunity for the chance to get connected to the whole world in an international framework through students, in a way that will facilitate to construct the international image of Peking University, and even China and other countries too.

It was a great privilege to be involved with the International Cultural Festival (ICF) 2005 in autumn, October representing Bangladesh for the first time. I was fortunate enough to receive a lot of support from Peking University, Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing and my dearest country mates, especially students studying in other universities and residing in Beijing. With the supports from all corners we were successful to perform a colorful fashion show, folk dance and exhibition of country booth for the first time. Indeed many visitors made it to our booth more colorful and showed their true love through taking photographs, autographs in T-shirt writing in Bengali-Ami tumakey valo bashi(wo ai ni), donnobad(xie xie), shuvescha( zhu he) etc. The visitors in general had the great desire of watching picture of our country, landscape, handicrafts, sharee, wedding dress etc. No doubt, the Bangladesh booth was one of the busiest both. The visitors had a lot of questions on the International Mother Language Day (21st February) where the origin is in Bangladesh. They had also the attraction on the portrait and pictures of Royal Bengal Tiger-the national animal of Bangladesh.

From the experience of 2005 festival we got different idea and thoughts to perform for the next festivals-ICF 2006, ICF 2007, and ICF 2008. In every festival we tried to represent Bangladesh focusing on different themes following the main theme of the festivals. In ICF 2006 we performed very successfully in stage show where the singing and dancing were part of it. In this festival we also joined food festival, which was largely attracted by the participants. In ICF 2007 we, the Bangladeshi students were organized and performed both in stage performances as well as exhibition of the country booth. Coloring hands by mehedi heavily attracted the visitors. In 2008 the last ICF festival of my student life of Peking University we planned to represent Bangladesh more profoundly and in a different style where we introduced some traditional Bangladeshi games like LUDU, KUTKUT. Every winner of the games has been given a piece of paper written his/her name in Bengali alphabet.

I as well my country mates in the festival experiences sweet moments as the Chinese and international visitors showed their true love to Bangladesh. Here it can be noted that in this festival every participating country tried to show their culture and distinctive features by hearts and souls.

I strongly believe this annual international cultural festival provides the students from various countries to exchange their culture which includes knowledge, the system of shared beliefs, ideas, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their society and external world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning-a process of socialization. It strengthens intercultural communication among the students or the people of the rest of the world, to improve the knowledge and awareness and promoted more active and constructive roles for us. Living and working together, I experienced many opportunities with creativity and intellectual stimulation in my fourth participation as a Bangladeshi student at Peking University.

This festival also provides the opportunity for young foreign residents in China to enhance their understanding of the Chinese people and their culture simultaneously. Students from overseas experience deep friendships and share their cultural heritage. Through active participation in the preservation of the cultural heritage, I believe that international students will be motivated and prepared into the real action of preserving cultural heritage through their rational actions. During the whole day of festival of every year(2005-2008), I as well as my dearest country mates shared our experiences and devoted ourselves to build an international friendship with deeper understanding of each other's cultures and searched for means to pave the road to the 'Culture of Peace' in the new millennium. I believe all the participants shared this to be a partner of a glorious success.

No doubt this festival will continue to develop the skills of a youth leader in preparation for the International Cultural Festival in coming years which will provide further opportunities to create partnerships and active participation among the students of Peking University. The continuation of this festival will be devoted to create a 'culture of peace,' and also serve to encourage the participants to respect and show tolerance for other cultures by learning and experiencing different cultures.

Author: Mohammad Mainul Islam, PhD is Assistant Professor, Department of Population Sciences, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and an Alumni of Peking University, China. (e-mail:mainulbdcn@gmail.com, mainul@pku.edu.cn)


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