Indians exchange culture

Students and faculty filled Brindley Auditorium Jan. 29 to experience the culture of India through native food and a Bollywood film.

The smells of curry, chicken and samosa wafted through the air as Indian students in their traditional attire welcomed guests.

With the population of UMHB Indian students growing from two to 30 since 2007, the newcomers felt as if something needed to be done. The Indian Student Association was founded in October to provide direction and community during the adjustment to America and to share culture to central Texas.

Information systems major Margret Mallela Daiva is president of the group.

“We are so happy and excited about this,” she said. “We did get a lot of support from the faculty. We have been having meetings every month, but

Margaret Mallela Daiva, president of the Indian Student Association chats with junior social work major Stacey Davidson at India Night held in Brindley Auditorium.

Margaret Mallela Daiva, president of the Indian Student Association chats with junior social work major Stacey Davidson at India Night held in Brindley Auditorium. Photo by Evan Duncan

this is our first event. We just wanted to show a bit of our culture and traditions.”

Director of Graduate Admissions and advisor for ISA, Rachel Haynes was pleased by the attendance.

“Around 100 students, faculty and staff attended Indian Night, making it
an incredible first event for ISA,” she said. “The Indian students put a lot of
time and effort into planning and facilitating this event, so there was much excitement to have such a large turnout.”

As participants were greeted by their hospitable hosts, they filled their plates with dishes from an Indian restaurant in Austin.

After the meal they entered the theater to watch a historical epic complete
with English subtitles.

“You can see our clothes our food items and the places and settings,”
Daiva said. “Everything is pre-1900s during the times when the kings ruled
India.”

Indian night provided an opportunity for those who have been sharing their
country with foreign students to receive more information about their guests
homes.

Vinodini Gutha, an international student from India, welcomes her fellow Crusaders to the festivities to celebrate culture held in Brindley Auditorium.

Vinodini Gutha, an international student from India, welcomes her fellow Crusaders to the festivities to celebrate culture held in Brindley Auditorium. Photo by Evan Duncan

Daiva understands the importance of different cultures and is thankful for the welcome she received in the United States.

“There are always good things in every culture. We want to accept them and take them. And we want to take these things and go back to India and do something.”

More and more international students continue to end up in Belton, Texas. Daiva came to UMHB because she wanted something different.

“I am a Christian and I wanted a Christian values-based university. My childhood friend came a semester ahead of me, and he told me it is one of the best places to come.”

Indian students are following each other semester after semester. Senior
information systems major Jithender Reddi Nalla (J.T.) and senior computer science major Raghavender Reddi Tadisina (Raghu) where the first here.

Seeing the interaction between the now large number of Indian students
and Americans inspired them.

“It is very good. I never expected this when it was just me and this guy (Nalla),” Tadisina said. “Now it is a lot of people. I never expected this … this
will be a memorable day in my life.”

More events are expected in the months to come.

Daiva is pleased with the success of the first event and looks forward to the
next.

He said, “We are so happy that our group has left a mark.”

Author: Evan Duncan

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