Malaysia Day is a special day of celebration, a day when Malaysians of diverse cultures come together as one to celebrate the formation of our beloved nation. This year, the New Roots Youth Club in Ampang, a youth club set up to reach out mainly to the Afghan youth, celebrated Malaysia Day with a session of interactive activities and cultural showcasing. The purpose of this celebration at the youth club is to help the youth gain an understanding and appreciation for the nation in which they live in this season of life.
The celebration started with a fun quiz about Malaysia, followed by a Show and Tell of several cultural artifacts of various cultures, including instruments, traditional games, as well as an explanation of the symbolism of the different colours on the Jalur Gemilang (The Malaysian Flag). We then proceeded with a brief session about Malaysian geography and history.
A significant part of the session was dedicated to understanding what it means to live in Malaysia as a foreigner. To be a part of Malaysian society is to celebrate the beauty of diversity, not just among local cultures, but also to celebrate and include the beauty of diversity which can be found among the diaspora people in Malaysia, the rich and diverse culture of the refugee and migrant communities. Apart from that, we also shared with the youth about appreciating the beauty of nature in this land, from the lush tropical rainforests, stunning beaches, to the vibrant biodiversity.
More importantly, we also shared the importance of learning to appreciate every season of life. This season of life for the Afghan youth is a temporary season. Despite the challenges refugee youth face, we can still make the best out of it by learning to be thankful for what we have, by having an education, and by appreciating the good things that they have in this season of life in Malaysia. The day concluded with singing “Rasa Sayang” together, playing the traditional Malaysian game- Congkak, and painting the Jalur Gemilang.
This celebration reminded me again that the beauty of this nation is exemplified when there is acceptance of the other, and celebration of our differences. A label of “citizen” versus “non-citizen” should not be the reason to stop us from extending our hospitality and celebration of multiculturalism towards those who are displaced in this land.