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Taste of India

April 20, 2008
Wrote this article for ‘Sankalp’ – presented by Association for India’s Development:

I came to Penn State in the Fall of 2007 to pursue my Masters. My seniors had made me cognizant of the huge Indian stronghold at Penn State, thus relieving me off a lot of my fears. But it was only when I actually came in contact with the ‘Association for India’s Development’ chapter at State College did I really understand the power of ‘togetherness’.

My association with AID began on a warm sunny September afternoon, when I volunteered to be a part of the food-stall at the Beaver Stadium during the Penn State vs Florida International football game. We sold hot-dogs and water bottles, all the while feeling appeased by the fact that while PSU was thrashing Florida, the money we were earning was going for a noble cause.
On the occasion of International Night organized by Global Connections, AID volunteers put up a small dance show at the Medler Field. As A.R Rahman’s voice reverberated throughout the stadium, I began to recognize a new meaning of patriotism. Before coming to the US, my idea of patriotism was very abstract and vague. But leaving one’s family and homeland gives a new perspective to a lot of things.
Initially starting off with a vision statement “Problems are interconnected, so must be the solution.”, AID, as a whole, has been a great eyeopener for me. The weekly Community Service Hour (CSH) on Thursdays has now become a strong medium of connecting with a facet of India which I knew existed, but never ever gave a thought to. At CSH, problems like ‘Farmer’s suicide’ were rigorously discussed, videos on ‘Right to Information’ were played, site visits from Parivartan to Prerna were described, regular updates on existing projects like ‘Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan’ were given. All these activities made me realise that inspite of being away from our country, there are many channels through which we can still remain attached to it. The umbilical cord need not be broken.
But AID is not only about CSH and fund raising. In a short span of 6 months, I have also been a witness to a plethora of fun and frolic. The AIDSC annual Diwali gathering made all us freshers feel as if we were back home celebrating with our families. It was an evening where all of us came together to celebrate and wish each other joy and happiness for the new year.
The Food Fest is a very important event and a platform through which AID attempts to reach out to people from different walks of life. Being a part of AID has made a huge impact on my short period as a student at Penn State. To many, AID’s activities may seem like shifting sand against the tide, but I truely believe that “If you build it, they will come…”
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