The Grand Opening
11am, 23rd August 2008.
Raindrops smear the windows of the shuttle bus as I looked out into the chilly morning weather. As the bus battles the traffic trying to get on the Simpang Tiga intersection, I felt somewhat alienated from the city around me. A city I’ve spent 9 years living in.
Yet something felt different. Perhaps it was sitting in the bus, the feeling of insecurity of being deprived of driving a car. Perhaps it was the chilly weather. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the campus’s big day.
As the bus whizzed past flyovers and high-rises, the towering blocks of Swinburne University of Technology’s extended campus came into view. It was almost majestic. It certainly didn’t feel like it was the campus I see and study in everyday.
It was then when I wondered if, just if, this is how international students in Swinburne first experience Kuching.
It was after all, the Grand Opening Ceremony for Swinburne’s new extended campus. Due to the event, the multi-storey carpark was restricted to invited guests while we students had to park at the off-campus carpark in Kenyalang with shuttle services to and fro campus thoughout the day.
The campus had been literally draped with gorgeous yellow and black cloth ahead of the event.
By 1pm, the VIPs, invited guests and dignitaries such as this one from China started pouring in. So did the sky, which haven’t yet decided to hold back on the down-pour (pun not intended). =P
Inside the Multi Purpose Hall, the guests were seated while the hall waits for the VVIP. I’d like to thank Woonyien for bringing me in! If not for her, I’d be standing out there without the slightest clue. =\
Sorry, panorama removed due to old and broken code used to display it. If you still want to view the image (and you really should), click here.
The hall was easily filled with professionals from all over. Not to mention being littered with scores of photographers and TV cameramen from the media.
At around 2pm, following an announcement by the MC, the VVIP arrives — none other than the Chief Minister of Sarawak. So here’s a measly shot of him looking away. Lol.
A cultural dance courtesy of the Sarawak Cultrual Village performed at the VVIP’s arrival.
After the speeches by both Bill Scales, Chancellor of SUTS and the Chief Minister, they both proceeded up the stage for the symbolic lighting up of the torch to signify the official opening of the extended campus.
The torch was well..fake. Something happened during the torch lighting though. Halfway through the torch-lighting, everyone suddenly heard a muffled tumbling. Turns out one of the photographers who bravely invaded the stage tripped over that yellow fence you see at the backdrop and fell smack on the floor, DSLR and all. LOL.
That was when all the other photographers below the stage where I was broke into laughter. Luckily the CM didn’t seem to notice anything.
A campus tour was due for the CM right after that. So here’s another measly shot of him exiting the hall.
My camera doesn’t like our Lord White Hair at all. =\
After the campus tour, the VVIP and the VIPs were treated to refreshments with a view of student performances at the open air area between block B and E.
The African performers were noteworthy though, with their freestyle raps and hiphop songs. Here’s a photo of my fellow coursemate from Nigeria, Abdullahi doing his thing yo. I didn’t catch the title of their song but the lyrics were really catchy. It didn’t take long before everyone was singing and cheering along.
Damn I never knew he could pull off a performance like that!
After a few performances, I got tired of standing and went around the campus for more photographic opportunities. When I spotted this:
Forget Terengganu’s recent Mercedes buying spree. Check out Sarawak’s line up! Here we have the Chief Minister’s Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, a Jaguar XJ believed to be the House Minister’s and an unknown E-Class Benz in the distance. Wowzers.
There were even more BMWs (Alfred Jabu’s sleek 7-Series), Mercs, Accords and so on paraded right behind these three vehicles belonging to the state’s big shots.
Anyway, the CM left at around 5pm shortly after the student performances ended.
Check out SwinTalk for a review of the campus! As of writing, its not up yet though.
All I can say is that the new campus is awesome. Swinburne feels much more like a University now, as opposed to that single block we had before this. There are of course, insufficiencies for being new.. but I’ll keep the pros and cons for another day.
As for now, congratulations Swinburnites!