On 19 February 2022, STEAR launched its flagship cultural event known as the “Global Village”, bringing together participants from around the globe to celebrate the diversity of Eurasian culture and arts. The virtual Global Village offered youth from across the continents a space where they could learn about and experience cultural diversity through interactions with cultural experts and practitioners.
In his welcome speech, STEAR Co-President Dao highlighted the powerful role culture plays in transforming societies, strengthening communities, and fostering a sense of identity and belonging. He went on to share that the aim of STEAR’s Global Village was to provide young people with an opportunity to connect with each other and explore new cultures, thereby deepening their cultural understanding. To make this a reality amidst restrictions posed by the pandemic, the Global Village used an innovative meeting platform called Gather.Town (or simply Gather), which enriched the immersive experience for participants.
Following Dao’s remarks, STEAR was honored to welcome two distinguished guests for their opening speeches. The first keynote speaker was Ms. Ann Follin, Vice-Chair of the Asia-Europe Museums Network. Ms. Follin is also currently the Director General of National Museums of World Culture Sweden and has more than 35 years of leadership experience in various senior positions in the cultural sector. Ms. Follin shared how museums offer new layers of meaning and new perspectives, sparking inspiration and creativity. She also introduced various exhibitions and projects that have harnessed the powers of creativity and technological innovation to engage people from all over the world and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
The second guest speech was given by Ms. Rensje Teerink, Head of Division in the European External Action Service. Ms. Teerink is an expert in South Asian relations and a seasoned diplomat with 27 years of experience in diplomacy and foreign service. The focus of Ms. Teerink’s speech was on the historical development of diplomatic relations between Europe and Asia and its impact on youth. To illustrate the significance of Europe-Asia relations, she brought attention to major political platforms such as the European Union’s Cooperation Framework with ASEAN and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Furthermore, she emphasized that cross-cultural interactions among youth from two regions should be nurtured and cultivated to promote understanding and tolerance.
After the Opening Ceremony, participants were invited to the Gather space that had been customized for the Global Village performances and workshops. Find out more about the performers and experts below!
Awang Samrow is an upcoming Terengganu (east coast part of Malaysia) Experimental Malay Cultures Neo Psychedelic Rock Music project by musician Fahmi Samsudin. They just started making music last year and have finished their debut album already. The music they screened was very experimental and expressive, while also being upbeat and relaxed. It is a wonderful example of how an artist can put his heart and soul into a piece of music.
The Oxford PheonOx Chinese Dance Society is a newly formed student-led organization at the University of Oxford and also the first Chinese dance society there. Their vision is to share Chinese culture through dance, bringing people together to foster intercultural exchange in Oxford and beyond, as well as celebrate the diversity of cultures. Their appearance at the Global Village involved a riveting minute-long group choreography of a Chinese dance performance, and treated us to a truly outstanding artistic spectacle. Watching the group perform their routine and move in unison to perform intricate maneuvers, steps and flourishes was a sight to behold indeed! If you would like to see their work, check out their video here.
In Weirong Li’s talk, she touched upon the benefits and disadvantages of growing up in an international environment. As Third Culture Kids (TCKs) can experience unique difficulties, Weirong Li shed light on the skills and talents of this group, such as cultural intelligence and cognitive flexibility, and more importantly – how one could use these skills during a career. Her start-up ‘Raw Culture’ dives deeper into these issues and is certainly worth checking out!
Irene Vettiyadan took us on a journey to Indian dance culture. She elaborated on the history of this style of dance and showed the audience that it is not just about a certain way of moving, but about telling the spectators a story. Irene demonstrated the various movements, which were so detailed they almost resembled sign language. The audience was motivated to join, which resulted in a small, online Indian dance group!
Lucia Choi’s exhibition was captivating, beginning with a video of her calligraphy art, and then taking us through basic Korean by taking our names and writing them in Korean characters. Each radical was explained to us, and we were given the chance to write Korean on our own too, whilst all the while she gave us a short but fascinating history of the Korean Language.
Soydivision Berlin’s performance was incredibly interesting. Starting with a screening of a YouTube video that they had made, of sound and light performance, Ariel then explained the power of art in social movement and the origins of the group. Many interesting questions were asked about the experience of being a diaspora artist and using art for social good; this performance perfectly encapsulated the mission of the Global Village.
Joyce Fung virtually took us to the campus of Yenching Academy through her expertly crafted stories and captivating photographs. The entire showcase was very immersive, with Joyce leading us through different spots inside the campus, explaining to us what it was like now and 100 years ago. She also shared her experience building the exhibition and the public’s positive reception towards her work.
Sopheak Nuon, coach for the Krou Yeung School Dance Group, screened two performances: Robam Koh Angre (also known as ballet dancing with wooden sticks) & Robam Chun Cheat Peak Tich (indigenous ballet dancing). Robam Koh Angre is a traditional dance performed to celebrate the harvesting season and was one of the most popular amongst traditional dances in Khmer society. Meanwhile, Robam Chun Cheat Peak Tich was performed to enhance solidarity and friendship between Khmer people and the indigenous groups. The audience loved both performances and appreciated how Sopheak enthusiastically explained the dances' meaning and significance to Cambodian traditional arts and dance.
After participants had a chance to check out the diverse performances, it was already time for the Closing Ceremony, during which STEAR had the opportunity to once more host distinguished guest speakers who made time in their busy schedules to provide us with their valuable messages.
We were honored to have Themis Christophidou, Director-General of Education, Youth, Sport and Culture at the European Commission, speak during the Closing Ceremony. Ms. Christophidou noted the similarities between the goals and efforts of STEAR and the European Commission in uniting young people across Europe and Asia. She also highlighted the fact that 2022 is a doubly special year for this goal: not only does 2022 mark the 35-year anniversary of the Erasmus+ program, which is entirely built on principles of immersion, exchange, and solidarity, but it is also the European Year of Youth. In other words, it is essential that both established institutions and new youth organizations use these opportunities to work towards their shared goals.
Then, Nico Luchsinger – current Executive Director at Asia Society Switzerland, and experienced in a variety of fields all relevant to both Asia Society and STEAR’s missions – shared his insights with audience members. Mr. Luchsinger spoke about the growing interconnectedness of Europe and Asia, with the latter having become such an important global player in recent years. He noted that cultural competences, especially ‘Asia competence, as actionable skills need to be trained across the broader population (including youth) – in that regard, Asia Society and STEAR share the same vision.
Finally, STEAR Co-President Luke closed off the event by reflecting on the ways in which STEAR has been endeavoring to bridge Europe and Asia through culture as a main focus of the organization. Making a reference to Te-Ping Chen’s book Land of Big Numbers, Luke emphasized the importance of valuing cultural transmission and storytelling, of which the Global Village has been an example.
More cultural events are on the way in the upcoming months, and we hope to continue to see many of you there as we did at the Global Village! We’d also like to thank all the wonderful performers, speakers, and team members who made this complex and ambitious event possible, as well as all the participants who made this into a truly interactive experience.