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KUALA LUMPUR: Being thousands of miles away from your home maybe the part and parcel when pursuing your studies but it is tougher still when you van be with your family during Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.
Accounting student Eniola Ekebafe, 21 was disheartened to find that she would be missing out from the usual tradition of gathering with her family in Nigeria for the second time.
“I was very sad because this gathering is significant for my family and it bonds us together.
“But here, I found new family comprising students from other countries as well, and we celebrated together like brothers and sisters.
“As they say, ‘the more, the merrier,” said Eniola at the annual Hari Raya gathering organised by International Islamic University (UIA) for their international students.
This year’s Hari Raya celebrations at the university cam pus in Gombak, near here was also the first time that 2,000 villagers staying near the vicinity of the higher education institution were invited to join in the celebrations with 2,000 odd international students.
Political science student, Najia Takhari, 24, lauded UIA’s effort for making the students feel at home, particularly on this special day for Muslims.
“This year’s celebration was awesome.
“We even had cooked the special cuisine from our country and set up stations where people can taste them, all my friends from Syria, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and more stayed up late night to cook the food,” said Najia from Afghanistan and has been calling Malaysia home for the past six years.
former UIA masters student Shavkatoghli, 26 brought his newly wedded wife to celebrate Hari Raya here.
“I wanted to show my wife my friends who were my family in UIA. These activities brought all the students together and we wont miss our families that much,” said Shavkatoghli who is from Uzbekistan.
His wife Hajiya Yunusqizi, 21, was delighted with the “open house” tradition that Malaysians practice.
“This is so wonderful, we have been invited to so many houses now, we don’t know which one to go first.
“Malaysians are so friendly and they celebrate Hari Raya more grand than us. We just treat it like every other day but we pray more and seek blessings from the elders,” said Hajiya.
UIA Rector Prof Datuk Seri Dr Zaleha Kamarudin said this was the first time the international university had organised a Hari Raya event involving outsiders and that to on a large scale.
“I’m so proud of our international students who come from 107 countries around the world and helped to manage and conduct this event with us.
“Every year, we would only have a small prayer session and breakfast with them and the staffs of UIA.
I’m so glad this year we made a difference,” said Dr Zaleha.
International students make-up 20 per cent of UIA student population.