Indigenous Awareness Day at Curtin Malaysia ignites cross-cultural appreciation

Miri, Sarawak – 30 May 2024 – In a vibrant celebration of Sarawak’s indigenous cultures, Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently hosted an Indigenous Awareness Day event. The event, attended by approximately 150 students and members of the Miri community, showcased the richness and diversity of indigenous heritage through various engaging activities and presentations.

The event was organised and executed by General Studies lecturers from Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Humanities and Health Sciences and 146 Curtin students taking the Team Leadership & Community Service unit in their Mata Pelajaran Umum or MPU course, demonstrating their commitment to fostering intercultural understanding and appreciation within the campus community.

Present to launch the event was Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Vincent Lee, who remarked that the event marked a significant milestone in promoting awareness of indigenous culture. Lee noted the profound impact on the students, who gained a deeper knowledge and recognition of indigenous traditions through their involvement.

Food enthusiasts who attended were delighted by an array of traditional cuisine. Indigenous vendors offered an eclectic variety of mouth-watering dishes from the Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau and Iban ethnics. The vendors also showcased ethnic arts and crafts, including exquisite handmade textiles, woven baskets and beadwork fashion accessories.

Attendees had the opportunity to purchase unique souvenirs and learn about the cultural significance behind each piece directly from members of the indigenous communities  in Miri.

The Curtin students also did their part in promoting indigenous culture. One standout highlight was a traditional dance performance by students from various ethnic backgrounds, showcasing Kenyah culture.

According to event organising chairperson, Associate Lecturer Nancy Anak Ujan, many of the student performers took the initiative to learn and present the dance to audiences for the first time, highlighting the spirit of inclusiveness and assimilation of cultures within the campus community.

“Seeing our students immerse themselves in the rich traditions of another culture and perform a dance that is not their own is truly a beautiful thing. It exemplifies the spirit of camaraderie, inclusiveness, and the celebration of cultural diversity that defines our university. This effort to understand and embrace different cultures not only broadens their horizons but also strengthens the bonds within our vibrant, multicultural community,” she said.

The Indigenous Awareness Day at Curtin Malaysia was a resounding success, fulfilling its aim of fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of indigenous cultures and nurturing student leadership skills. The attendees walked away with fond memories and a heightened appreciation for the richness and diversity of indigenous heritage.

Valerie Velina Nagreg, Head of the General Studies Department at the Faculty of Humanities and Health Sciences, said the event signified more than just cultural awareness; it was a pivotal step toward the forthcoming International Indigenous Exhibition 2025, which the Faculty of Humanities and Health Sciences will host.

Information on Curtin Malaysia can be found on its website at, or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

Students performing Orang Ulu dance

Students in traditional Orang Ulu costume welcoming attendees

Volunteers playing traditional Iban music

Valerie (left) accompanying Prof Lee on tour of the event stalls

A stall showcasing Bidayuh handicrafts and delicacies