The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) organized their last weekly Cultural Connections of the semester – Pecha Kucha. The event was held in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) Entertainment Center on Friday, Nov. 16.
Pecha Kucha, meaning “chit-chat” in Japanese, originated in Tokyo in the early 2000s. It is a format of presentation in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, allowing the presenter to discuss a concept in 6 minutes and 40 seconds in total. The idea is to keep the presentations short and concise, as well as to allow for multiple presenters in the same event.
“It’s like a little taste of another culture without (the audience) having to leave Durham,” Paul Chiarantona, the programming coordinator and advisor for OISS, said.
The format of Cultural Connections Pecha Kucha was altered to enhance the presentations, limiting the time to 3 minutes for 3 slides.
“We kind of adapted it last year… they have a minute for each slide and we would ring a bell when they are done,” Chiarantona said. “So really it’s not a Pecha Kucha in that way, but it has that essence of ideas shared by many people.”
Nine international students from seven different countries delivered brief presentations on a variety of topics in order to give the audience a taste of their respective cultures.
Tirthadeep “Tito” Das discussed the representation of Indians in U.S. mass media in his presentation “My Beef with Hollywood.” Valerie Mores showed the audience that Kenya should not be associated exclusively with poverty in “It’s Not Just This.” Devanshu Prasad explored the celebration of deities in Nepal in “Goddess Lakshmi and Tihar.” Kimia Fereydooni educated the audience on Iranian etiquette in “Watch Your Manners.” In a similar concept, Risi Naa talked about “3 Things Not to Do When Visiting West Papua.” Nicolas Silberstein Camara introduced the public to the system behind “Brazil General Elections 2018.” Vatsal Kheni gave a taste of the Indian “Uttrayan (Makar-Sankranti) Festival of Kites.” Ellen Gonzales explored the environmental issue of “Sargasso” in the Dominican Republic. Finally, Nadia Fereydooni brought up the Iranian examination system in “So You Thought the SAT Was Tough?”
“I wanted to talk about cultural differences, I feel like we don’t know a lot of the international community,” senior mechanical engineering major Kimia Fereydooni said. “Just knowing that there are a lot of people who like hearing about other cultures, I wanted to talk about my culture and introduce that to other people.”
“Again, there are not a lot of international students here, and by having these sorts of events, we can tell people what it’s like to be from another country and give people a chance to see our side of our cultures, too,” Fereydooni added.
“I decided to present because I wanted people to know about different politics and different systems from different cultures. Basically, I wanted to introduce (the audience) to the electoral system of Brazil,” Camara, a sophomore computer science major, said. “Events like this are important because people get to know about different cultures and different people from all over the world, so (the audience) can actually have a different experience in (their) own country.”
Cultural Connections will return in the spring semester as a weekly MUB event.