Covid-19 might be able to stop people gathering, but it can’t stop people from celebrating their culture.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has announced that their 2020 UJ International Student Festival, which is known for transforming UJ into a kaleidoscope of colours, will be held virtually this year on 24 October.

The virtually hosted event will feature combinations of live and pre-recorded activities, under the theme ‘Socially distant, culturally attached.’ Some of the countries represented at the festival previously include Angola, China, Turkey, Spain, Gabon, Zimbabwe, as well as Mauritius, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Malawi, Somalia.

The festival, which is organised by the UJ Internationalisation Division, is a rare occasion where students from various nations come together and celebrate their heritage.

Study Abroad Division for Internationalisation director Lebethe Malefo said the festival has proved to be an excellent platform to create awareness and foster positive relations with international students and their embassies, to promote diversity.

He expressed, “For the past 16 years running, this colourful festival celebrates the values, traditions and beliefs of world cultures and highlights the importance of international collaboration and communication as crucial elements of academic vitality.”

Some of the countries represented at the University of Johannesburg’s International Student Festival previously include Angola, China, Turkey, Spain, Gabon, Zimbabwe, as well as Mauritius, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Malawi, Somalia. Photo: Supplied

The event has been able to attract an audience of over 5 000 students and staff from different countries every year.

During the festival students come together to celebrate their respective cultures in a vibrant and lively showcase of their cultural attires, cuisine and dance in fierce competition.

It is also part of UJ’s Diversity Week, which is organised in September when South Africa celebrates Heritage Month. The UJ Diversity Week embraces the university’s values which acknowledge the various cultures of people working and studying at UJ.

UJ has also been able to keep in touch with the international students during the national lockdown in South Africa.

The Internationalisation Division has hosted two international student town halls and two consultation sessions with students who study abroad. Malefo said the university has ensured that students who are abroad are not left behind academically or otherwise during the festivities.

Malefo stated, “The division continues to engage with students over e-mail, through the UJ website, social media and a dedicated WhatsApp number. Queries and support are dealt with on a case-by-case basis with necessary referrals elsewhere in the University.”

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