The air was brimming with fervent activity as one steped into the premise; a promising marathon of activities in store for the youth aged 16-22, in a nutshell LUMS Olympiad is all about repeat successes, gaining identity, display of vigour and presence of mind. It was an utter joy to be at the 6th annual LUMS Olympiad that spanned for four days, showcased 22 events and was attended by over 800 delegates from all over Pakistan. 

“Invigorating and intelligently executed as I would call these events,” gushed one of the participants from IBA Karachi. The event which is happening for the past six years now is held with the collaboration of Debating and Recitation Society of LUMS and LUMS Media and Arts Society. The long list of proceedings is comprised of different genres of arts including debating, declamation, ad-making, law-moot court, dramatics, photography, music singing workshops, music video screenings along with a host of sports and academic events like math enigma, mind quest, photo essay competition, the concert and performance nights exclusively meant for the participants followed by a closing ceremony and dinner.

“The theme for this year is aptly titled ‘Cultural Plurality’ which basically aims at the unification of diverse ethnicity which should be promoted amongst the youth,” says Farhan Rafi, convener of LUMS Olympiad. He also praised the massive turnout of the participants representing various institutions of the country including IBA, GIK, NUST, FAST, BNU, Aitchison, LGS, Beacon House and City School Campuses and a special mention for the students of Peshawar University, Quetta and rural Punjab; which clearly shows positive feedback of cross-cultural groups coming together for the action.

In a natural expansion of the platform some improvements are made to upgrade the Olympiad for this year and include celebrity workshops conducted by renowned artists like Saeed Akhtar, Amanat Ali Khan, Maria B, Zeb and Haniya and others. The team sizes have been increased along with an addition of ‘Cherry Maze Lounge’ a place to hang out and chill and competitive awards for the visiting teams. The competition of ad-development and concept was a refreshing idea as it focused on the current hot topic ‘Vote for change.’ LGS Defence and Aitchison College stood out for their efforts in coming up with stimulating ideas on how to bring that change and that every vote counts.

It was also heartening to observe the youth sharing their potential and expressing their resentment in a creative way at the current lawlessness of the country where we are fighting with innumerable issues including inflation, corruption, terrorism and poverty. The teams participating for dramatics were also a treat to watch as they exhibited their acting skills to highlight the hidden realities of life. This year’s theme was an ‘ode to diversity.’ The performance was judged on attributes ranging from originality, entertainment, value, execution, acting prowess and the interpretation of the theme.

The ‘Battle of Bands’ is the biggest high of the Olympiad every year; the key is to provide a base to bands as well as individual performers to show their worth as musicians and to maintain a standard set for the quality played by students in schools and universities in the country. A fierce competition is observed every year as the final round approaches. In Thematic Art the students were required to create artwork based on a selected theme within the relevant category of art forms in categories such as nail art, face painting, poster making, temporary tattoos and collage art. An art exhibition held on day 2 was a show of an exciting emerging talent of the country that this platform continues to aspire.

The music video competition gave the budding filmmakers a chance to capture the emotions of music on film. The ‘Parliamentary Style Debating’ was judged on the content, individual speaking style, strategy and overall argumentation. It was the ‘Movie Trivia’ that was a lot of fun as one got to see students playing Dumb Charades while humming tunes so that their team mates can guess the song. The Math Enigma and Mind Quest call out to the young intellectuals for a showdown of intelligence and nerves. The very interesting Law Moot Court Competition was all about legal proceedings, reasoning, jargon and knowledge. The competition promotes an awareness and appreciation for the rule of law and its applicability by the participating teams on the merits of their arguments and their command over the legal discipline.

While speaking about the music and singing competition, noted singer Amanat Ali Khan said, “I believe that whatever music and singing that has been rendered was a top-class effort and the enthusiastic participation is also encouraging for it creates opportunities for the youth to display their talent on such a big platform.” The purpose of creating such presentations and endeavours is to capitalise on the youth’s maximum talent output.

Haniya, of Zeb and Haniya who was the chief guest at the opening ceremony, spoke with passion about the need to realise the strength that lies in our rich cultural heritage. “One can’t be isolated while living in today’s world as we are also a part other realities. It’s the cultural pluralities that has brought people together on a single platform though they have come from diverse backgrounds and speak different languages.” Haniya also pinpointed that a majority of Pakistan’s problems have emerged because of intolerance.

The show-stealer and the utter delight of the opening ceremony was a memorable performance by the instrumental group ‘Khumariyaan’ from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province.

LUMS Olympiad is quickly becoming a national event where the societies of various institutions are involved and is an out and out a student-led programme; which aims to celebrate creativity and energy and the emphasis is on ‘how one plays the game.’