On Thursday, the Pakistani Student Association, in conjunction with the Middle Eastern Student Center (MESC), the South Asian Federation (SAF) and a number of other organizations, hosted UCR’s first South Asian Exhibition. This event was organized to highlight the diversity of South Asian culture and featured a talk by famous YouTubers Qais Mohammed and The Mahmood Brothers. Overall, the event provided a unique place for people of all colors and creeds to come together and learn more about the vibrant cultures within South Asia. According to a MESC member, “It is important for South Asians to have a place to distinguish their own culture.”
The event began with different student organizations setting up tables and providing information about their work. For example, a member of the Sikh Student Association (SSA) which hopes to bring awareness about the Sikh religion as well as create a community for Sikh students, a member of the organization stated that their goal to increase awareness about Sikh students on campus. Another such organization was Project Rural Indian Social and Health Improvement Project (Project R.I.S.H.I.), which works on public health and sanitation issues within rural Indian villages.
According to co-founder of The South Asian Federation, Ravin Rathod, the SAF decided to co-host the event because the exhibition “aligns with SAF’s goals because it provides a broader outlet for talking about the community.” Many of the clubs that attended were related not just to different ethnic communities, but also to religious communities within the subcontinent such as the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the SSA.
Along with these clubs providing information about their activities, the South Asian Exhibition also served traditional South Asian appetizers, such as Gulab Jamun, which is a Punjabi delicacy, and samosas. The food was delicious, and added an authentic air to the night’s events. However, the main event, which was the lecture by Qias Omar and The Mahmood Brothers did not start until later on into the event.
The presentation consisted of a skit by Qias Omar and The Mahmood Brothers, which was followed by a dance competition by different student groups. The competition featured two teams, with three individuals in each team. However, the dance competition got intense, as there was a tie between two individuals which went to “the death-round.”
After the dance-off, the YouTubers gave a motivational speech about the reason they began their YouTube channel. They stressed the importance of staying in school and creating YouTube channels for more profound reasons than wanting fame or money. The lecture was followed by a Q-and-A, where students asked about the difficulties that Qias Omar and The Mahmood Brothers may have had, or the struggles that came with using YouTube as a platform.
The exhibition lasted for about four hours, from 6-10 p.m., during which students continually filtered in and out. However, the turnout was pretty strong and very diverse, and it seemed as if the presentation was the focal point of the event. There were exchange students in attendance, as well as students from other ethnic organizations who attended in solidarity. The exhibitions were primarily social, and gave students the leisure to network and meet other organizations.
Overall, the event was incredibly well-organized, and shed a lot of light specifically on the culture of South Asia, and the different communities contained within it. Moreover, it provided students from diverse cultures to come together and celebrate a common heritage. According to student Shahrukh Tailor, “It was lit.” The exhibition successfully brought together different communities and nationalities to highlight the uniqueness of the South Asian community.