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Emory Students and Staff Showcase South Asia

December 2006
Emory Students and Staff Showcase South Asia

On November 14th, Emory University students and staff hosted an event to showcase their local and global ties to South Asia. The event, called "Passport to the World: South Asia," featured guest speakers, informational booths and cultural performances at the Woodruff Residential Center on campus. Food was provided by Emory Catering, and student recipes were incorporated into the menu.

Emory staff member Terry Eisland, who helped coordinate the event, said, "Our hope was to instill the seed that would inspire students to live and work abroad." In this spirit, Emory's own Journalism Program Director Sheila Tefft spoke at the event about living and working in India for five years. Tefft directly asked students to consider whether, "South Asia is in your destiny."

Booths at the event familiarized students with the active South Asian community on campus. Indian Cultural Exchange and Muslim Student Association were among the student groups in attendance. Members of student-run nonprofit, Ashraya Initiative for Children, explained how to get involved with their orphanage in Pune, India. University programs provided information on studying in Dharmasala, India, where the Dalai Lama currently lives in exile.

The breadth of countries represented at the event included Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. The program opened with Buddhist chanting in the traditional monastic debate style. Later Emory's co-ed bhangra team, Karma, performed a choreographed routine to a medley of songs. After the performance Karma invited audience members into their circle so that the crowd could learn a few bhangra moves as well.

In reference to the diverse turnout, student Amrit Kapai said, "This is great because non-South Asians are witnessing South Asian culture". Lhakpa, visiting professor of Tibetan Studies at Emory, commented on how the evening fostered understanding between different cultures and added, "These are the events which give rise to friendship, and bring people together to share problems and solutions."

~Supraja Narasimhan

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