On January 29th, 2023, the Michigan Malaysian Student Association (MiMSA) proudly hosted the Malaysian Cultural Night (MCN) 2023 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. This event showcased a play titled "Rojak" that depicted an interracial couple's journey to overcome cultural differences and gain acceptance from their respective families.

As early as 5:30 PM, attendees arrived at the Michigan League and were greeted with a display of posters showcasing the various ethnic groups in Malaysia and their representation in the play. The performance began at 6:30 PM and lasted for one hour, showcasing an array of dances such as modern dance, Chinese ribbon dance, and a traditional Indian dance. These performances showcased the unity and diversity of Malaysian culture, which was the vision of the creative director, Chairie Faris.

Chairie, who identifies as a mixed Malaysian-Indian, shared his personal experiences and stories from his grandparents that inspired the play. He expressed his hope that through Malaysian Cultural Night, he could shed light on the true nature of Malaysian culture and allow himself to be vulnerable by showcasing his heritage.

“Because Malaysia is such a multi-racial country...when you cross (paths), inevitably there’s going to be conflict...(The play) is about families trying to reconcile...A lot of what’s happening in the play is inspired by stories from my grandparents,” Chairie said when asked about his thoughts behind the play.

“Through Malaysian Cultural Night, I’m letting myself be a bit more vulnerable and showing people, like, this is who I am, and people appreciate that.” This sentiment was echoed by Mas Razak, the director of MCN, who expressed his appreciation for the participants' efforts to learn about Malaysian culture. “Thank you for coming and learning about our culture tonight,” said Mas at the end of the play. “I hope that next time you hear about Malaysia, or you think about Malaysia, you think about the warmth of its people and the colors that you see up on stage here tonight.”

After the play, participants were invited to North Quad for a complimentary box of traditional Malaysian food, including Nasi Lemak with rice, sambal, egg, cucumbers, and a choice of butter chicken or chickpeas. The event concluded with attendees mingling and slowly departing, with a lasting impression of the warmth and vibrancy of Malaysian culture.

Some highlights of the night:

The opening video where the soon-to-be couple first meets in Michigan

A “mamak” (Malay-Indian fusion restaurant) where thecouple announces their engagement to their friends

The first meeting between the two families where major conflict arises

Modern dance featuring the groom and his friends

The Chinese Ribbon Dance with mixed costumes

A final dance where both families celebrate their differences

An ending photoshoot with all the performers


GISC is proud to cosponsor and fund events that promote the understanding of global Islamic culture and Muslim societies worldwide. Are you an undergraduate student group looking for funding for a similar event? Apply now: https://myumi.ch/RprGw