Indian Student Association provides place for students to share Indian culture

Cameron Rozek, News Editor & Online Editor

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Naperville Central held its first meeting for the Indian Student Association (ISA) on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Seniors Neil Gupta, Anand Mathur, Rohan Bhargava and Abhinav Bawankule had the idea to create a place for students of Indian heritage at Central to come together. 

Although new to most students in the school, this is not the first time Central has had an ISA. Several years before now existed a poorly run ISA that has since been shut down due to unknown reasons.

“I realized there [are] a lot of people who have the same culture and identity,” Gupta said, “but a lot of them don’t embrace it as much as they can. They don’t really have a platform to embrace it.”

Gupta, Mathur, Bhargava and Bawankule have wanted to create and ISA for about a year now. 

“We originally had the idea last year, but it was too late to start a club,” Gupta said.

Leaders discussed their plans for the upcoming year and goals for the ISA. Not only do they intend to host a ping-pong and cricket tournament, but they also compete against the ISA from Naperville North in a crosstown rivalry match of cricket.

Many members look forward to competing in a competitive Bollywood dance competition (BCI), which takes place at Waubonsie Valley High School later this year.

ISA also plans to watch movies together, and celebrate various festivals throughout the course of the year. Several students mentioned their excitement for the Hindu festival Holi, the festival of color in the spring.

Nearly 40 students came to the first ISA meeting to show their interest. 

“I think [the ISA] is a really great opportunity to get involved with the Indian community and interact with my culture here at school,” junior Thrisha Bandepallee said. “It’s easy to get involved [and] I’m excited to learn.”

While the ISA is designed to bring students of Indian heritage together, not all attendees of the meeting fell into this category. 

“I can learn a lot of valuable information about Indian heritage and culture,” senior Mark Laboe said. “I want to be able to know about a festival or event in the future. That way, I can talk about it [and] get involved”

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The initial meeting was lighthearted and fun as members began with an icebreaker; “What is the most common way people mispronounce your name?” They also talked about future plans to bring their favorite Indian cuisine to meetings and share with the group.

Leaders pointed out that as they are all seniors, they will be looking for future members of the club to carry it on. 

“I want to embrace the culture [and] for it to continue through many years after us,” Gupta said. “I can’t wait to pass it on.”

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