The invited guests of honour as well as lecturers and students from UPM with (front row, from left) Chef Wan, Sarah Hashim and Dr Muhammad Shahrim Abdul Karim at the “Flavours of Myanmar: Cooking Show with Chef Wan” fundraising event at the De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan restaurant. Pic by ROHANIS SHUKRI

FIVE undergraduates from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) will soon get a lifetime experience as participants during the Language and Cultural Engagement Programme in Myanmar this October.

The two-week mobility programme is a collaboration between UPM and Yadanabon University in Mandalay to provide a platform for students to share knowledge and experience Myanmar’s culture firsthand.

In raising funds for the programme, the Centre for the Advancement of Language Competence (CALC) had recently organised “Flavours of Myanmar: Cooking Show with Chef Wan” to finance the students’ flight tickets, accommodation and other related expenses during their stay in Myanmar.

Sponsored by celebrity chef Datuk Redzuan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan, the cooking show showcased Myanmar national cuisines, such as Dan bauk (biryani rice), Mohinga (rice noodles and fish soup) and Gin Thoke (ginger salad), demonstrated by lecturers from the Faculty of Food Science and Technology Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Shahrim Abdul Karim and CALC language teacher Daw Thi Da Than or also known as Sarah Hashim.

They were assisted by Chef Wan.

Also present at the funding raising event was Daw Sein New Aye(Minister, Embassy of Myanmar).

One of the students, Engku Nur Alia Mohd Ghazali, a first-year student from the Bachelor of Malay Language and Linguistics, said she is excited and looking forward to be part of the student mobility programme.

Nur Alia said besides the cultural exchange and language classes, she can’t wait to see the sunset in Mandalay Hill, a must-visit place in Myanmar.

“Many exciting activities will be held during the trip, including introducing the language and culture between both countries, visiting Yadanabon University and going up on a hot balloon air, as well as other places of interest,” she said.

She was piqued by the unique and simple Myanmar language compared with other languages which are a bit harder to learn.

“As part of my course, I have to take one subject on language, so I chose the Myanmar language. It is easy to pronounce and memorise the words.”

Nur Alia said they have started preparing for the trip though it will only be in October. They will be presenting the traditional dances and exchange customs with the other participants.

CALC director Associate Professor Dr Arshad Abd Samad, said CALC encouraged its teachers and students to organise activities and programmes outside the classroom to further enhance their language skills and motivation in learning foreign languages and cultures.

“A mobility programme such as this will enable students to challenge themselves in using the Myanmar language that they have learned in Myanmar itself, and at the same time, it will allow them to acquire valuable experiences there,” he said.

Sarah, who is also the programme leader, hoped that the centre would be able to raise sufficient funds in time for the trip. She said the estimated amount to raise is around RM30,000.

“I am grateful to Chef Wan for agreeing to sponsor the cooking show event and the venue as well. And I am happy to see so many people who bought their seats to be part of the event.

“I am also excited to bring my students to Myanmar so they can learn the Myanmar cultures firsthand and understand the language better. They can also communicate with their counterparts over there,” she added.

The guests were also entertained by Chef Wan presence and his witty remarks.