By Naila Tariq
American University of Sharjah is one of the most multicultural campuses in the UAE. With students from over 90 nationalities, AUS boasts a number of cultural clubs where students can learn about, embrace and teach each other about their cultures. Global Day is a celebration of both the multicultural community and the spirit of tolerance and acceptance celebrated at AUS.
Over 2,000 AUS students, faculty, staff and members of the community attended the annual two-day event— and enjoyed a variety of traditional foods from the clubs' pavilions as well as both indoor and outdoor cultural performances. Students got to show off their talents through dances, skits and musical acts that captured some aspects of their country’s culture. Each pavilion was designed to represent its country, from the pyramids for Egypt to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe for France. Students were encouraged to embrace the day and wear traditional clothing, and everyone was free to browse the pavilions and learn more about each culture.
There were a number of changes this year, however, designed to improve the experience for both the clubs and the attendees. For instance, there was a greater emphasis on sustainability to reduce the ecological footprint of such a large event. Clubs were encouraged to use recycled materials and energy-efficient lighting, with a sustainability award given to the most eco-friendly pavilion. This is part of AUS' commitment to becoming a more environmentally sustainable campus. The winner of the Global Day sustainability award, as well as other AUS Global Day awards such as best corner, best performance, etc., will be announced during the Student Appreciation Awards ceremony which will be held on May 2, 2016.
The constantly changing weather was also given consideration. Stronger building materials were used for this year's pavilions to make sure that they could resist potential heavy winds and rain storms.
Furthermore, as part of the event's “Peace throughout the World” theme, the GCC clubs collaborated together for the first time, sharing one large pavilion and even performing as one group. Four countries from North Africa—Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia— also shared a pavilion. Both collaborations symbolized unity and harmony, and a commitment to uphold those values and relationships.
Students said they thought this year's changes made Global Day a better experience.
It is incredible to think about how much the festival has grown since the first one was held in 1998. Back then, there were eight student organizations and about 400 students at AUS. This year, the 18th anniversary of the event, 32 countries were represented and welcomed the 6,000-strong, multinational student body.
In a world mired by conflict, stereotypes and suspicion, events like Global Day prove that it is still possible to stand together in solidarity.
Naila Tariq is a student at American University of Sharjah.
Visit www.aus.edu for more information about American University of Sharjah