To experience and understand one’s own culture to its fullest, it is often important to see it from another’s eyes. A cohort of foreign students on an exchange programme to IIMB has offered us exactly that opportunity and brought colour and life to an otherwise stressful quotidian. Exchange Aarambh was an event aimed at both welcoming our guests and facilitating more widespread interactions with the exchange students. It allowed members from different communities abroad to showcase any element of their culture they wished to. Though initiated by the Cultural Committee, the event was handled almost entirely by the exchange students themselves, who rose to the challenge marvellously.
A huge crowd gathered beforehand at L square, the central hub. The Exchange Band performed a few songs to get the energy flowing. We began with the countries with fewer members – Switzerland and Sweden presented a compare-and-contrast scenario between their countries, Belgium combined a quiz and informational presentation about their culture. The energetic Italians, who were also the hosts of the whole show, gave us some insight into their expressive gesticulations. A small but refreshing interim was provided by a small dance performance by Taal, the IIMB dance troupe. The two big groups comprised of the Germans and the French. Where every other group had been small and fragmented, the French (over 40 of them) poured in in large numbers and set the environment ablaze with their infectious enthusiasm. They represented their culture in the most natural way – with local song and dance, and games which involved the audience. The audience seemed to have multiplied by the time they were done. The Germans were the last to go, with an entertaining and informative tour through Germany’s rich history and its tremendous contributions to the world. After the countries, the Exchange Band took up the stage once more, and this time the crowd was far more participative. Eventually, the whole event broke off into an informal affair, with everyone occupying the stage and sharing dance moves across the board. It was a delightful evening – entertaining, informative and fun-filled.