Students Find Friendships, Culture In Indian Student Association

Students hunting for a deeper understanding of Indian culture can find it in the Indian Student Association (ISA).

Established as a non-profit in 1995, the ISA promotes the goals of preserving and spreading the cultures and practices of India. Some of the avenues for this include hosting events celebrating traditional Indian holidays like Garba, Diwali and Holi.

“I want to emphasize that it’s not just meant for Indian people, it’s for anyone that wants to learn about different cultures and experience new things,” said ISA President Sampada Nyalapatla.

Asian students make up 6.4% of the UCF community, with close to 400 students traveling internationally from India to study. Over the last several years the total international population of students on campus has grown at an average rate of 10.8%, with India as the largest contributor to the increase.

A typical general body meeting includes discussions about ideas and goals for upcoming events, along with icebreaker games to foster friendships among members.

ISA member Jayant Budda started in the club as a freshman representative and now serves as the treasurer.

“Within ISA, we have people from different cultures joining our club. We’re giving non-Indian people a chance to learn about a culture and have a good time,” said Budda, a legal studies major.

ISA hosts multiple events including Garba, a dance that honors and celebrates the feminine form of divinity. Traditionally, the dance is performed by women in a circle around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a garbha deep (womb lamp).  Diwali is the festival of lights, and celebrates the spiritual victory of light over darkness over a five-day celebration in November.

Michael Samuel, who joined as a freshman, said the events connect them with his culture and offers access to different aspects of India he hadn’t encountered before.

“I think it’s important for other students to learn about the ISA because it provides a modern perspective on Indian culture. It’s a cool place for other Indian students and even non-Indian students to come together and have fun,” Samuel said.

ISA’s next upcoming event is a Diwali celebration on Nov. 20 at the Foundry Church in Winter Springs.

Comments are closed.