Public celebrates Malaysian culture at event in MU


Kevin Larson/Iowa State Daily

Awang Adek HussinCQ, ambassador to the United States from Malaysia, speaks at Malaysian Culture Night on Nov. 2. The event, held in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union, celebrated Malaysian members of the Iowa State community and their achievements.

Morgan Kelly

Rhythmic drumming could be heard from the entrance of the Memorial Union as the H.E. Datuk Dr. Awang Adek Hussin, Malaysian ambassador to the United States of America, and distinguished guests made their way to the Great Hall.

Many round tables were setup in the Great Hall and on top to decorate them were school themed centerpieces and programs.

The mixture of people gathered at each table were all wearing formal attire. Some of the women had ornate head wraps, high heels and dresses on. The men wore suits and ties or a nice sweater.

The energy was high and full of excitement as the lights dimmed and the stage lights shown on two beautiful and intricate lions, their eyelids, ears and mouths all flapping.

The curtains opened to reveal a band of drums and cymbals. The drum appeared to control the movement of the lions. The two men inside each lion costume performed a dance sequence, which included the front man controlling the head to jump onto his partners legs and stand about ten feet tall. The crowd cheered and clapped.

David Spalding, Dean of Business, spoke in place of ISU president Steven Leath to welcome everyone to the event.

Ambassador Hussin then said he enjoyed these kinds of events because they showed the beauty of Malaysia. He said Malaysia is a place of tolerance and appreciation for others cultures and religions.

This is something he values and misses about Malaysia.

Nur Azriza Amira, a senior in economics who put together the backdrop and the props for the night’s performances, said Iowa State does a good job of bringing parts of Malaysia to the university.

“They have a lot of activities, they have Malaysian night, they have a lot of gatherings here where they invite other people to come and introduce them to the culture,” Amira said. 

Many of the people in attendance were there to support their friends who had helped set up the event, or learn more about the different cultures that exist in Malaysia.

“We came to support out friends, and we are having a culture night in the spring so we wanted to come experience this one,” said Syhira Anis Yahya, a junior at Drake University studying actuarial science. 

Yahya looked forward most to the dikir barat, a choral part of the show.

“It takes a lot of people to do it so it’s rather nice. It’s very lively,” Yahya said.

Amira, too, enjoyed the line dancing and the play.

“It’s a new thing. Last year they did a play, but this year it’s a new theme and all. It’s exciting,” Amira said.

Yahya said she misses the food the most and is excited to eat spicey Malaysian food at the event tonight.

Cuisine seemed to be a common thread among the Malaysians gathered.

“It’s very hard to get spicy food here (in the United States),” Amira said. “I also just miss the people around, you don’t have to speak another language there.”

While Yahya is enjoying her time in the States, she agrees with Amira. American culture is totally different than Malaysian culture said Yahya.

“American’s are so polite. In Malaysia people don’t hold the door for each other. It’s the little things like that,” Amira said.

The Ambassador closed his speech with some advice for American’s. He said they should learn to be more tolerant of religions and cultures, to embrace them.

He said in Malaysia they don’t even blink when they see another culture celebrating, they just join in and learn about it.