ISLAMABAD: A group of eight artists left for China on Tuesday to participate in various events in Chinese provinces of Xinjiang and Liaoning. The culture exposure visit is being supported by the Chinese government as part of the project Cultural Caravan that is being executed by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and the Chinese Cultural Centre in Islamabad.The cultural delegation comprised travel and documentary photographer Danial Shah, Musician Mehdi Raza, Rabab player Gulab Khel, visual artist Aleem Dad Khan, flute player Salman Adil, filmmaker Amir Rao, Bharatnatyam performing artist Amna Mawaz Khan and anthropologist Ashraf Kakar. The group of visiting artists from Pakistan will be touring two provinces of China Xinjiang and Liaoning to discover, explore and learn more about the rich culture and folk traditions of the people of China.Speaking at the send-off ceremony, the PNCA Director General Syed Jamal Shah said that Cultural Caravan was a multi-disciplinary art and culture caravan traversing the transition phase from ancient Silk Route to modern Economic Corridor. “The artists engaged in it will document the history, art and culture along the route presented in the light of current developmental initiative,” he said.Pakistani cultural delegation would start its journey from China covering the diversity of landscape, beauty of its cultural verity, traditions and customs of it people and new development for progress and prosperity. The group of artists after returning to Pakistan will be joined by another group of artists from China to tour Pakistan.The joint artistic tour will produce a treasure of art, films, photographs and writings produced spontaneously while travelling. Different creative forms will produce a collage of artistic disciplines worthy of showcasing in grand expositions and ceremonies arranged in important cities and towns of China and Pakistan after the conclusion of the caravan.Musical concerts and screenings of films will form part of such ceremonies. The exhibition and films will also be taken to other countries to create awareness about the productive potentials of this collaborative endeavor between two friendly and neighboring countries.Japan: The Embassy of Japan in Islamabad on Tuesday organised a pre-departure orientation for 15 Pakistani scholarship awardees who would be leaving for Japan shortly to study under various scholarship programmes funded by the government of Japan. The programmes under which these scholarships have been awarded to Pakistani students this year include MEXT Research Scholarship 2017 (2-5 years, until their research is complete), MEXT Teachers Training Scholarship Programme (18 months duration), Young Leaders’ Programme (1 year duration) and Japanese Language Training Programme for Foreign Service Officers (8 months duration).In Teachers Training Programme (TTP), one male teacher has been selected, in Young Leaders Programme (YLP) two male government officials have been selected, in Diplomat Training Programme, one woman diplomat of MOFA was nominated and selected. Whereas, 11 students from across Pakistan have received direct MEXT Research scholarship 2017 through university recommendation.Earlier in March this year, seven Pakistani students, who were awarded MEXT Research Scholarship 2017 through the Embassy of Japan in Pakistan joined their respective universities in Japan. The Embassy of Japan in Pakistan annually selects Pakistani students for Japanese MEXT Research Scholarship Programme for Masters and PhD studies at prestigious universities in Japan.Dr Yasar Ayaz, Head of Robotics Department at NUST, and some other MEXT alumni’s were also invited at the orientation who shared their knowledge and experience of studying and living in Japan with the scholarship awardees.Junya Matsuura, charge d’ affaires ad interim of Japan to Pakistan, while speaking at the occasion congratulated the scholarship awardees and expressed his hope that they would utilize the knowledge and expertise that they would acquire in Japan for the future development of Pakistan. He said that they should become bridges of friendship between Pakistan and Japan.Matsuura advised the scholarship awardees to prepare themselves mentally to adapt to a new environment after arriving in Japan as life in Japan would be quite different from that of Pakistan. However, he also shared his hope that the hospitality and friendship of Japanese people would get them through any unexpected challenge. Published in Daily Times, September 13th 2017.