The UM Indian Students Association [ISA] played host to the nationally-recognized South Asian Students Alliance [SASA] Conference, in conjunction with UF, for the first time in the history of the organization. It was the first time the conference was held in Florida.
During the three-day cultural event, speakers from all over the nation and India lectured, and Indian-influenced films such as “The Guru” and “Bend it like Beckham” were played.
“The event is about having southern Asian students come together to learn and unify,” Vivek Patel, public relations officer for ISA, said.
“It was a great experience, especially because there were so many schools there,” said sophomore Anand Patel, who worked on the SASA committee that planned the event. “We really enjoyed the whole thing.”
During their free time, students explored Orlando and attended nightly parties at places such as Hard Rock Live and the House of Blues.
“The parties were really a reward, not just about partying; in order to go to the last party you had to attend two speaker sessions,” Vivek Patel said.
The weekend was an overall success, giving the ISA and UM some great national exposure.
“The feedback has been saying that it was one of the best weekends, but that may be partly because of the weather,” Vivek Patel said.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the Cultural Showcase, a competition in which ISA came in second place.
“The weekend was so much more than a competition,” Vivek Patel said.
Overall, ISA says they are proud of their performance.
“We didn’t bring as much hype, but we brought a new taste,” Vivek Patel said. “We had a lot of beauty. It was a lot more musical, with no singing.”
Rut Vijbhatt choreographed the 16 performers for the performance, which lasted about 8 minutes.
“We kind of found out we were going to be competing at the conference at the last minute,” Anand Patel said. “Rut did a great job getting everybody ready. He had two separate tryouts for the team.”
The $2500 dollar first prize went to Emory University.
“Emory was my favorite,” Vivek Patel said. “They got the crowd in to it. The amount of energy they brought in made you want to get out of your seat.”
If you haven’t had a chance to see ISA perform, visit their website at www.um-isa.com.
“This was the first time ISA participated in this competition,” Aruna Airan, advisor to ISA, said. “Their performance was really impressive.”
“We are looking forward to next year,” Airan said.
Leigha Taber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org