My iFEST Experience

People often say “Staying in a small city limits your exposure”. Not in my case. I have been a student at Curtin Malaysia for eight semesters, which is about four years, and I must say, I have been quite exposed.

The university is located in Miri, Sarawak in East Malaysia and here is where authenticity is always a main course meal. Curtin Malaysia is made out of staff and students from 45 different countries around the world, which makes the campus very diverse in many different ways. Every year, there are many cultural events organised on campus and one of them is the International Festival, also known as iFest. It is Curtin Malaysia’s biggest annual cultural festival, and is one that I have never missed to participate in.  To me, there is nothing quite like the iFest.

Let me take you through the journey of one of my favourite days on campus as a Curtin student. As you walk through the campus gates, an energetic wave engulfs you, drawing your attention to the different activities happening everywhere you look. The festival starts in the morning just after 9am with showcase of food stalls, art displays and exhibitions at every corner of the campus. The scene is just beautiful.

One of the major traditions of iFest is Holi, a festival mainly practiced in India and Nepal. It is also called the ‘festival of love’ or the ‘festival of colours’. The main purpose of the festival is to spread love and joy, while the concept of this festival is to look as colourful as possible. You can imagine how it feels to see everyone throwing body paint on each other and enjoying the sights of people covered in body paint. Everyone is laughing and splashing away, just spreading joy as a sign of love and celebrating life. Coming from Zimbabwe, a small country at the southern savanna of Africa, Holi is more than just fascinating. It is a heart-warming and exotic experience.

I cannot talk about iFest and not mention the food. Food is one of the biggest elements of every culture and the amazing treats available during iFest surely open up giant windows into the insights of different cultures. Just by tasting something new and learning where it comes from bring so much more value to me.

During iFest, the campus is open to members of the public and small food businesses. There are food trucks and food vendors selling food and drinks for reasonable prices. Everything from sweet to savoury, from spicy to sour is almost at your fingertips.

As the night approaches, the scene changes into something truly magical where students from various cultural backgrounds showcase their colourful cultures in the most interesting ways possible. My favourite highlight of the night is always the fashion show. What better way to display one’s heritage than by showcasing what they are wearing. Students representing their countries walk down the runway showing off their unique attires, both male and female in separate categories. The fashion show gives you a vivid idea of what it is like to be a person from a different country. To most, it is the closest they can ever be to a country they have never been to.

Following the fashion show, other activities are held such as dance and singing competitions beat boxing, stand-up comedy, poetry, speeches, prize giving ceremony and many other performances that keep the crowd entertained.

Before the night comes to an end, the crowd releases bright coloured lanterns into the pitch dark sky. It is simply the perfect end to such a beautiful day. And for me, it marks a good ending to my favourite day as a Curtin student, when I wake up ready to get dirty and wild during the day, but glamorously calm and collected as the sun sets.

Article by: Caroline Muramba


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