Festival of lights aims to celebrate differences, not hide them
Looking down to the campus square from one of the higher floors, one might have noticed a small sea of light in front of the 3D debate center last Thursday evening.
The light came from candles held by people at VU’s festival of lights, a yearly celebration inspired by old traditions such as Hannukah, Diwali, and Christmas, organized by 3D as an opportunity to share personal stories among the VU community, regardless of religion or origin.
The festival saw various speakers and musicians while the guests enjoyed hot chocolate and typical dutch 'gevulde koeken'.
Joep van Dijk, chair of the USR, shared how he would ask people to speak to one another about their feelings more, and how he wishes one should be open to listening when a friend has a need to share their feelings.
Ukrainian student Liliia Sarry told her story of moving to the Netherlands after being given a handful of hours to decide on staying or leaving. She spoke about the impact the war has on her life, but also emphasized how she is finally able to be annoyed by exams again, a signal to her that life seems at least somewhat normal.
Atefe, who is an Iranian student at VU Amsterdam, emphasized what we at VU can do to support the Iranians as they fight for their freedom. She pleaded for us to join them in protest, and to be their voice as the Iranians work to rebuild their scattered community.
The evening was rounded off by the Iranian band Esfahan, who played a selection of Setar songs.
Marc Lamain, programmer at NEWConnective, noted how the festival aims to connect people and to show that our differences should be celebrated, rather than hidden.
VU festival of lights was organized by 3D, in collaboration with VU organizations such as USR, NEWConnective, Life is Better in 3D, Iranian Scholars for Liberty and Bridging Success.
IMAGE: Robert Cornelis