2023 Immersia: It’s a Wrap!
25 days. 43 events. 875 registered orders. 1,154 attendees.
The second edition of Immersia: Engaging with Asia and the Pacific, hosted by the ANU School of Culture, History & Language, came to a close on 30 September, leaving its mark across campus and beyond. Culture, history, tradition, innovation and so much more came to the fore with a series of engaging, interactive and immersive experiences throughout the festival.
An explosion of cultural diversity
From Sanskrit narrative and art practice in Hindi teaching to songs and dances of the Pacific region that told rich tales of the region’s cultures and traditions; from upcycling the yoga pant and Chinese tea tasting to Korean and Japanese calligraphy; from Chinese talent showcases and Indian bhangra dance workshops to henna and Korean hand therapy workshops; and from Malaysia bazaars and Manus basket weaving to landscape photography workshops…Immersia had it all. The endeavour was to immerse audiences in the real-time experience, and we can proudly say it’s been a resounding success!
Flavour of Immersia: Collaboration
Besides being a showcase of cultural diversity, Immersia is all about showcasing cross-disciplinary and transdisciplinary enterprise and innovation. In this spirit, this year’s edition blossomed in the light of collaborations across ANU and the ACT.
Our close collaborators include the Student Research Conference, a dynamic annual initiative that celebrates undergraduate, honours and Masters by coursework students, led by Student Life. We were thrilled to partner with SRC 2023 and work with the team to make their conference culturally vibrant while celebrating Immersia with the wider student and academic community on campus. Thank you Lucas Medcraft, for all your amazing leadership and collaborative attitude! A special thanks goes here to the Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance for stepping in at short notice to make our plans for an auspicious kick-off to the SRC and Immersia a reality.
We also simply cannot thank enough another really special duo – Koebi Faumui and Garry Faumui. Keobi’s music is unique and so apt in today’s time. Thank you Koebi for your special touch to the SRC-Immersia Mindfulness workshop, and for bringing our Pacific Talofa + Talanoa afternoon to life. And Garry, thank you so much for being so easy, flexible and amazing to work with!
All our participants were also our wonderful partners in making this a success, and this included ANU-based associations and student groups such as KOZA; the ANU Malaysian Students Organisation and the Malaysian Students' Council of Australia ACT Chapter; the ANU Myanmar Student Association; the ANU Board Games Society; the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, the Australian Centre on China in the World; and the Regional Institutes of the College of Asia and the Pacific.
Our partners from the very inception of Immersia, Taichi & Mandarin Solutions, continue to grow in popularity, and rightly so. Thank you so much, Dapeng Wang, for your inspiring and fun take on wushu, Chinese language learning and simply having fun while getting healthy!
KOZA’s calligraphy (seoye) workshop was a fantastic example of cultural immersion, engaging people in learning the art as well as key words of the language. Also among our awesome participants was ACT Desi, who was a close partner in making Immersia so festive, interactive and engaging with their Indian Bhangra Dance and Henna Art workshops. Attendees had a blast shaking a leg and learning some mean moves at the dance workshop; while the henna workshop was not only enlightening but also fun and creative. Moreover, a huge shout out is due to Vikas Sharma, the Founder of ACT Desi, for his approach to collaboration with Immersia and his coverage of our event via 2XXFM and the ACT Desi media channels.
Another jewel in the Immersia crown this year was the privilege of hosting Dr Noriko Tanaka, who was visiting Canberra all the way from Osaka, Japan, for an exhibition here. It was very gracious of her to conduct a workshop on Japanese calligraphy as part of Immersia. In fact, this workshop ended up as the top-selling event, with 70 registrations! As popular were the beautiful workshops run by Duncan and Jakida Smith of the Wiradjuri Echoes Consultancy – their cross-cultural and dot painting workshops symbolised the very essence of the Immersia vision; cultural learning and knowledge sharing.
We were really lucky and honoured also to have the presence of the Mongolian Landscape Photographers Society. Not only did we have the opportunity to launch their stunning exhibition here, we also learnt firsthand about photography from these experts through their excellent landscape photography workshop. We owe this collaboration to Dr Natasha Fijn, who we must thank for making this possible.
And that wasn’t the only art on show. Equally special was the with opportunity to view Voice Cores 1-6, a new work of art by one of Australia’s (and Canberra’s) leading glasswork artists, Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello, who is renowned for making glass vessels inspired by woven forms traditionally made by Indigenous peoples. Jennifer is of Arrernte (Australian Central Desert), Chinese and Anglo-Celtic descent, and her artwork embraces 60,000 years of Indigenous Australian culture through the new medium of glass. This talk between CHL Director Simon Haberle and the artist was held during the Return to Coombs Alumni Afternoon, a special event dedicated to our alumni community, an afternoon of art, conversation, memories and reconnection.
A special feather in the Immersia cap was Pollen Immersia Day – the first-ever Pollen Open Day at ANU. Truly innovative and so engaging, it was lovely to see so many people from diverse walks of life coming and learning about pollen, hay fever and allergies through interactive games, displays and presentations. Led by pollen expert Professor Simon Haberle, this event was a huge draw and success, thanks to him and the awesome Archaeology and Natural History team!
We owe a great deal to every single participant in Immersia; thanks to Associate Professor Betania, who travelled from overseas and conducted a brilliant workshop and knowledge session on the art of Korean hand therapy; a big applause and message of gratitude to our very own community at CHL for their generous involvement to share some of the amazing themes and subjects we represent at our School, from yoga and art in language teaching to Sanskrit narrative, Korean cinema, and traditional basket making—many thanks Associate Professor Shameem Black, Associate Professor Peter Friedlander, Associate Professor McComas Taylor, Professor Kyung Moon Hwang, and Dr Nayahamui Rooney; thank you, Deveni Temu and the PNG Perevota Singers; Solstice Middleby, what a lovely morning spent with you and your children’s book reading session!
Gracias to Rafael Florez from the Centre for Learning and Teaching for all your guidance and support, as well as for giving us Gabriel Covarrubias. Gabriel, thank you for your stunning contribution to our showcase! What an artist you are! A round of applause is also due to the National Aikido Federation at ANU for their generous demonstration of Aikido, an ancient martial art that is waiting to be rediscovered by so many of us on campus. And kudos to our fabulous team who put together the Grand Finale of Immersia—the Chinese Talent Show. It truly was a fitting conclusion to our festival.
A huge thanks to all our participants, production team, volunteers and guests…you made it possible for Team Immersia to deliver an immersive, unique and engaging experience. See you next year!
If you’d like to participate or partner with us in 2024 Immersia, please get in touch with us on Immersia.firstname.lastname@example.org and do also take a minute to share any feedback via this form for this year, which we would really value as we plan ahead for another edition of Immersia.