Flavours of the World Under One Roof at APU


Discovering and learning about international cultures through food and dances has been a hallmark of the  Asia Pacific Language Centre (APLC) over the years. The 2023 International Food Festival attended by more than 400 guests featured traditional attires and an irresistible gourmet spread from Algeria, Thailand, Equatorial Guinea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar, Russia, Timor-Leste, Kazakhstan, Djibouti, Oman, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and, of course, Malaysia.

Malaysian students proudly manned the main host booth with Sharen Kaur (far right), the event planner.

The food festival was held in conjunction with Malaysia's 66th National Day. It was no mean feat coordinating and organising this event as  APLC staff and their students worked hand in hand for nearly 3 weeks preceding the event. 

Kicking off the event was the well-known song Standing in the Eyes of the World, which was originally performed by Malaysia's most well-known rock singer, Ella.

Arabic traditional dance performance by energetic Middle Eastern students.

Following that, a group of enthusiastic Middle Eastern students dressed in their best traditional attire performed two well-known traditional Arab dances on stage: Dabke and Aredah. The popular Japanese Jpop dance then wowed the audience with its distinctive fusion of traditional and modern elements, followed by the popular Russian folk dance that had the crowd cheering for them. With the help of African sounds, the African students also lit up the stage and got everyone in a groove. Then it was on to the highlight of the event—the food tasting!

Guests were spoiled for choice with a spread of delicacies from 18 different countries. Should they get the fadira and sambusa from the African booth, the beshmarmak from the Central Asia booth, the tukir naan bibi from the Dili Timor station, or the tantalising nasi lemak, roti canai, and vibrant traditional kuehs from the host booth itself? At the Japan booth, guests could get their names written in Japanese calligraphy in addition to feasting on Japanese delicacies. Sidr Honey, claimed as the finest honey in the entire world, was generously offered at the Arab booth. For most, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Arabic flavours tickle taste buds at the APU International Food Festival.

Sharing his delight, Datuk Parmjit Singh, CEO of APU, "It is a delight to experience this celebration of diversity, cultures and global cuisines within a singular event. It exemplifies camaraderie, teamwork and solidarity amongst APLC staff and international students. More importantly, all have fun and gain from their interaction with each other ”.

According to event coordinator and language academic development manager Sharen Kaur, "Studying abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience for most of our international students, but it can also come with its own set of challenges, such as homesickness. Getting students to organise and join multicultural events like this would allow them to make new friends and connect with other international students instantly. The emphasis of this event is on communication, teamwork, and bonding, she added.

The event planner Sharen Kaur (third from left), the CEO of Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation, Datuk Parmjit Singh (fifth from left), Datin Sushil Kaur (fourth from left), and the proud organising team.

Siblings from Madagascar, Mirado and Mirasoa Andriambololona, said the blend of cultures through food and music made the festival so unique and different from the ones they attended in their home country. They were surprised to see how students were taking on responsibilities and working hand in hand with their educators to organise the event in less than three weeks.

Beydan Niman Abdillahi from Djibouti also said, "Today, I have seen what unity can do to us. With a team, we can achieve much more. We all smile in the same language today!"

Enthusiastic Japanese students at their food booth.
"We definitely do not have much of this rich experience back in Japan," Ryo Tsuruta, Tomomi Nakamura, Serina Hiranuma and Ami Itabashi added. "This is the first time we are experiencing an event like this, where it feels like the whole world is in it!

Intengenov Eduard from Kazakhstan said, "I am so happy to share my country's cuisines with many students all over the world. Today, I have experienced more than I could have learned on the internet. Everything was under one roof!” he added.

"This is the most memorable experience I have had in Malaysia. I can never get to experience this back in Russia," said Nepomniashchaia Anastasiia.
Stunning Yemeni students display their native clothing with pride.

It is a grand celebration where we can showcase little bits and pieces of our culture and in which everyone at APU is welcome and involved," Ahmed Ahmed Ahmed Awadh Al-Hassani from Yemen said. 

Among the FELDA-sponsored students from APU who helped tirelessly with their team members to set up the main booth for the event with the help of their respective teachers were Nur Hanisa Dasira, Nur Ain Afrina Damia, Afif Azami Alif, and Iddin Irfan Mikhail. "We have never gone through anything like this before. We are over the moon as this festival is very fulfilling. The fact that we took part in preparing and organising the event gave it another layer of emotion," they shared.

“I’m so happy that all of our planning came to fruition," Eranio Maria Mateus Sau Dias Marcal, from Timor Leste, said, "I’m so, so hyped and proud to enjoy this event today with my friends from all nationalities!”