Old times revisited
UTAR Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS) Volunteer Service Group, Taiwan National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) International Volunteer Group and Gopeng Heritage House jointly organised a cultural carnival titled 'A Trip Down Memory Lane: 2013 Gopeng Cultural Festival' at Gopeng Square from 3 to 4 August 2013.
In his opening remarks, UTAR ICS Deputy Dean Dr Wong Wun Bin mentioned that Gopeng is a beautiful and unique ancient town epitomising the cultural essences of Malaysia. There are many ethnic groups with different religious beliefs who have stayed there for hundreds of years. However, they have also shown camaraderie and peaceful coexistence with one another. "It is an enlightening experience for both UTAR and TsingHua Volunteer Groups who are involved in the 'Gopeng Multi-religious and Multicultural Conservation' programme," said Dr Wong.
Multi-religion is one of the features of multiracial identity. Hence, to experience the flourishing multiculturalism and religions in Gopeng, UTAR and Tsing Hua Volunteer Groups paid visits to places of worships such as Masjid Jamek Baru Gopeng, Gurdwara Sahib Gopeng, Kuil Sri Mahamariamman, St. Jude Catholic Churh, Tokong Kwon Yin Gopeng, Tokong Wong Loo Sin See Yah and Tokong Fatt Yeah Kopisan. During a presentation at UTAR Perak Campus, volunteer groups from both universities shared their visit findings and photos from the historical investigation which was exhibited during the festival.
Volunteer Secretary of Gopeng Heritage House, Phang See Kong, said, "The volunteer groups are very hardworking. They toiled day and night to gather the historical materials." He also expressed admiration and appreciation towards the young people for their initiatives in creating awareness on the historical value of Gopeng town. He thanked Dr Wong for serving an important role as the go-between for NTHU's International Volunteer Group and Gopeng Heritage House.
"We love and cherish Gopeng very much!" exclaimed NHTU International Volunteer Group Instructor Wong Lee Lan, who opined that Gopeng is a historical town that ought to be introduced to people in and out of the country. The efforts undertaken by the volunteer groups included, among others, audio navigation for Gopeng Heritage House which helps visitors understand the historical background of Gopeng town. The 'Qing Miao' project which included the 'Qing Miao' summer camp prepared by the volunteer groups for primary school students also enabled them to learn about the history of Gopeng and environmental conservation.
The festival, which attracted residents from Gopeng and visitors from outstation, was filled with activities such as exhibition of cultural relics by Gopeng Heritage House, sightseeing at historical spots, talk by Malaysian paint artist Ch'ng Kiah Kean, and handicrafts market at Gopeng Square. Do-it-yourself (DIY) experts gathered at the market to sell their finest creations including soap, accessory cases, hairpins, origami dolls and other handmade crafts.
(Third from right) UTAR ICS Wong, Phang and NTHU Wong leaving their handprints during the launching ceremony while others look on
DIY expert demonstrating the techniques of soap-making
Exhibition corner exposing the history of Gopeng town
NTHU International Volunteer Group and ICS students posing for a group photo at UTAR Perak Campus