Chug, chug, chug, choooo-choooo. Are you prepared for the South Asian Express? It's on its way to Chapel Hill full steam ahead.
Picture 100 of the finest South Asians on UNC's campus percolating (I know, the notion scares me a bit too) while they lead you around the far reaches of South Asia with songs and dances for an entire evening - and you will understand just a hint of the entertainment that is headed your way.
This scene will conclude with the phat fall show Aaj Ka Dhamaka put on by Sangam, UNC's South Asian awareness organization. Aaj Ka Dhamaka highlights the premium South Asian singing and dancing talent in this region. Colleges from all over the South and Mid-Atlantic come out to try their hand at winning part of our loot.
But underlying their need for fame and moola is a stronger vision: a vision to improve the lives of South Asians all across the globe. All proceeds and donations at this event will support the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship.
The fellowship is a grant given to two students per semester who dedicate their efforts to increasing awareness of South Asian issues. The grant aims to promote the value of education through experience and give students a broader global perspective in hopes of enhancing their future career goals. The fellowship stemmed from the entrepreneurship of Sangam members, who are working nonstop to continue the noble goals and principles upheld by Mahatma Gandhi. All the donations and funds collected go towards the endowment of $125,000 Sangam needs to raise to establish a permanent fund at UNC for the fellowship. One Sangam member made the long journey to India last summer, and his work forever changed him and the community he worked for.
We lay our scene in fair mother India: A less-than-happy hoard of patients circles the free government hospital and waits to be seen early Monday morning. Doctors cram themselves into closet-sized offices to conduct research and see patients. This is not the chaos that one expects for a summer internship, and it certainly wasn't what Tilak Shah expected as he strolled up to the entrance of the hospital to begin his summer in India.
Shah spent the majority of this summer conducting research on effects of calcium deficiencies on osteomalacia, a type of bone disease. Despite the crammed quarters and hoards of patients, the doctors' training and work was nothing short of exceptional, according to Shah. And from this research team came nutrition recommendations that will be announced by the Indian Council of Medical Research (akin to our National Health Organization) to help decrease the likelihood of contracting this disease.
But he didn't spend his entire summer cooped up inside medical facilities. He found the time to trek through the Himalayas as well as study the concepts of Ayervada - an ancient Indian herbal type of remedy that looks to heal individuals through traditional means. This experience would not have enriched his life, or the lives of countless Indians suffering from this disease, if the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship wasn't available.
Past students have shown the same drive and persistence to further South Asian causes. Their projects ranged from educating mine workers in Gujarat about hygiene practices to teaching high school and college students about AIDS, exploring trends in South Asian economic markets and researching the religious impacts on societal behavior in South Asia.
So, come out to the Carolina Theater this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. for a seriously amazing South Asian Cultural Show. You'll get to see a vast majority of those "brown" folks (it's all good, I'm one of them) that congregate in that "private dining room" called Lenoir Dining Hall and the second floor of Davis Library shake their "groove thangs."
And don't forget about the phatty after-party following the show at the Marriott next to the Carolina Theater. It'll be a throw-down to remember.
To inquire more about the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship or Aaj Ka Dhamaka contact Nikheel Purohit at 914-5122. To buy tickets for the show, contact the Carolina Theater at 560-3030 or talk to your resident assistants to see if they reserved tickets for your residence hall or building.
Monica Modi is a senior business major from Columbia, MD. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.