It was the end of a long afternoon after a series of crisis simulation exercises. At this point, we were ready for a well-deserved break to bring balance to the bustle, and I looked forward to doing this at the Cultural Evening, one of the many fun and original events organized by the class’s Social Committee.
Here was a chance to share with our classmates in a more intimate and casual setting about where we came from, and the things we love (and miss) about our homelands. Although we’ve gotten to know each other better over the past five months, learning about each other’s countries and cultures can bring people closer together in a special way.
A little bit of everything
The foyer of Bellerive 32 (the building where we have all our classes) was transformed into a cultural marketplace, with tables surrounding the entire hallway. Each country “booth” consisted of a collage of pictures, flags, facts and memorabilia. I answered my classmates’ questions about the poster I made, titled “5 Signs You’re From Malaysia” and served pineapple tarts while wearing my traditional kebaya.
I also managed to take a break from manning my own booth to enjoy what the other tables had to offer and listened to some interesting anecdotes from around the world. There was plenty of food and drink to sample including Spanish paella, Italian antipasti, Ghanaian condensed milk toffee, bubble tea and margaritas, among many others. As the evening progressed, the foyer bustled even more with activity and the excitement of seeing each other in our colourful traditional garments instead of the usual formal suits.
One of the highlights of the evening was a dance tutorial to “Jerusalema”, a famous South African song, led by Nondumiso Makhoba and Craig Plaatjes. We also cheered on the volunteers who participated in a game from the Philippines called Larong Talong, as they competed against each other to use a cucumber (traditionally an eggplant) to push an egg in a race to the finish line.
Putting the “International” in IMD
It was a jovial evening of dancing, interesting conversations and even local travel tips since many of us were dreaming of bigger travel plans after two whole years of a global lockdown. This was a great way to celebrate the diversity of our class, which consists of 38 different nationalities. I would say that learning about our respective cultural backgrounds and contexts is also part and parcel of working together in a truly international environment.