by Kabeer Chaudhary, Indian, Nanyang MBA Participant, Intake 2011
Diversity is key to create a great and memorable experience and we are fortunate that The NANYANG MBA fosters this and strive to have such for its students – we have 18 nationalities in our cohort! This diversity in nationalities gives us the opportunity to learn about other people’s culture without having to go that far. And we did – right here in Singapore!
The 2011 Student Executive Committee (Ex-Co) kick-started this year’s events for current students with the celebration of the ‘Mooncake Festival’ in September, also known as the ‘Mid-Autumn’ or ‘Moon Festival’ at the Chinese Gardens. The Chinese Gardens, also known as Jurong Gardens, is one of Singapore’s nature parks and is built over 8 hectares in 1975 under the guidance of a well-known architect from Taiwan. Twenty (20) of us, current MBA students, with our families and friends, walked through the gardens and were greeted by northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping. The place awed us with its colorful lanterns tied to ancient legends dotting the lake and the grounds and Chinese customs of the festival.
Mooncake or Moon Festival is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese community all around the world. It falls on the 15th of the 8th month of the lunar calendar and it is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese and even Vietnamese, just like Christmas and Thanksgiving for Westerners. There are many legends and folklore surrounding the festival from the Moon Goddess of Immortality to the overthrowing of Mongol Rule and to the Vietnamese legend of a wife who accidentally desecrated a sacred banyan tree and was transported to the heavens by the tree for doing so (the Vietnamese light lanterns to show her way down to earth)*. But it is also a favorable time to have a get together and enjoy one another’s company, eating mooncakes under a full moon (for us, we did at the Chinese Garden!). Of course, apart from the delicious mooncakes some of us brought, we were also delighted by mooncakes shared by gracious celebrants who were there to enjoy and celebrate the festivities.
Our Chinese classmates were excited and eager to share with us their culture specially that surround these festivities. Each of us was ‘welcomed’ with a traditional mooncake and our Chinese friends helped to differentiate between flavors such like walnut, lotus, pumpkin and red beans. , Dominic, our Swiss classmate, had a mooncake with a nut filling, and commented, “It was my first time at a Mooncake Festival. I’ve heard a lot about the famous mooncakes and I was excited to finally try them. After trying about every possible mooncake flavor, I can say that my favorite is the one with the nut filling.”