Sanjeevini, Mohammed Naseeh, and V. Lasya Priya, students of the Integrated Master’s programme at University of Hyderabad (UoH) have been declared winners of the Digital Storytelling competition conducted by the European Union-supported Harmony Project on Internationalisation at UoH. In all, 16 entries were received from the Integrated students of UoH on the theme of “youth, intercultural awareness, and cultural diversity”. The three selected students will attend a two-week ‘boot camp’ on intercultural awareness and cultural diversity (IACD) to be organised by Varna University of Management (VUM), Varna, Bulgaria in June/July 2023. All expenses towards travel, visa processing, and stay will be borne by the project.
The project called, “Internationalization and Virtual Exchange: Borderless between EU and Asian Countries,” involves institutions in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India. From India, the Vellore Institute of Technology and the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies are the other partners. Initiated at UoH by Prof. N. Siva Kumar, currently the Dean, School of Life Sciences, Harmony is a seven-country collaborative project led by the University of Zaragoza, Spain and the European Policy Development and Research Institute, Slovenia. Other participating institutions are from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.
The students who won the Digital Storytelling competition were tasked to challenge long-standing beliefs and how individuals view themselves and the world around them. They responded by producing four-minute digital stories with their mobile phones on either a lived experience or scripted from imagination but reflecting contemporary realities. A jury consisting of Harmony project faculty and a media expert judged the entries along various parameters such as creativity and originality, content and impact of storytelling, cinematography and editing, and structure and navigation.
Sanjeevini, a Sociology major (IMA) at UoH, is from Nallurpatti village in Tamil Nadu and enjoys reading fiction and poetry and indulges in calligraphy, while being a certified Bharatanatyam dancer. She believes that IACD is “a vital aspect in ensuring unity and peace in today’s highly interconnected and globalised world.” She hopes to use the visit to Bulgaria to learn new things, make new friends, and make some contribution to cultural diversity on UoH campus.
Mohammed Naseeh Kozhithodi, in his second-year IMA in Anthropology at UoH, grew up in a village in the Malappuram district of Kerala. After completing high school, he took a two-year break to explore different interests and skill, a period that he says helped enrich his creativity and worldview immensely. As a budding writer, he is working on his first novel which he hopes to publish soon. Apart from reading, he finds satisfaction in painting and photography. Emphasising the importance of diversity, he says, “a world where everyone looks, thinks, and acts the same way would be so cynical and devoid of any strength or vibrance.” He sees the visit to Bulgaria as an opportunity to embrace diversity and soak in the cultural richness of various international participants in the project.
Lasya Priya, a second-year student of IMA Political Science at UoH, is from Anakapalli, near Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. She has a passion for Kuchipudi dance, drawing, painting, singing folk songs, and acting, winning prizes in national and university-level competitions. Seeking to make a positive impact on the world with her talents and abilities, she hopes that the trip to Varna in Bulgaria would enhance her ‘understanding of diverse cultures’ and help her become ‘an effective global citizen’.
Prof. N. Siva Kumar congratulated the winners of the digital storytelling competition and said that it was a small attempt by the project to create awareness about cultural diversity on the UoH campus. He hoped that the winners will return from Bulgaria not only with a transformative experience personally, but also give something back to the University in terms of their exposure and learning. For instance, he added, their learnings from the visit to VUM, Bulgaria, where colleagues have developed the concept of an intercultural meeting space called ‘Friends Tea House’, would be useful for a similar space being created at UoH by the Harmony team.