Why Is An Indian Student Association So Valuable?
Shriya Gupta, an Indian student currently studying abroad in the USA tells us why she considers Indian Student Associations at overseas universities are extremely important:
Coming to study abroad can be an overwhelming experience. Leaving your home country, a familiar society and a comfortable culture, can render you to feel disoriented or even homesick, upon arrival. However the concept of cultural student organizations, allows one to carry a part of home with them. These cultural organizations help foster a sense of belonging in a new and often different environment. Their aim is to be your comfort zone and in order to do so; they ensure that there is presence of a community that values your culture in a similar way as you do. For instance, when I came to study at the University of Pennsylvania, I automatically became a part of the South Asian Society. In doing so, I had a ready-made group of friends who understood a lot about me and where I come from. It was really easy to talk to these people. In fact, not only were they warm and responsive each time I reached out to them, but they also went out of their way to make sure my transition into college life was seamless.
Looking back, the times I recall valuing the South Asian Society the most has been during Indian festivals and celebrations. Even though I’ve been in college for over three and a half years, each time celebrations of Diwali or Holi etch closer I miss home. It is during these times that the South Asian Society has made college, my home away from home. Small things like hosting a celebration, ordering authentic Indian food and carrying out familiar traditions- has helped me feel like I am a part of something bigger. It has helped me get a better understanding of who I am by keeping me grounded, particularly through a time as ever changing as college.
Moreover, having culture specific societies has helped me learn a great deal about other cultures from all over the world. It has allowed me to inhale the true breadth that the notion of diversity has to offer. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to expose myself and learn about several other cultures while participating in customs and traditions unique to them.
I am extremely grateful of this tradition of inter-cultural societies as it has made my college experience far more fulfilling than I could have imagined. I am extremely grateful for the community, memories and friendships that I am certain will last a lifetime!