Texas A&M University-Kingsville has over 230 organizations on campus. However, this is the first year TAMUK introduces the Association of Indian Students (AIS), the first organization of its kind in South Texas. The organization had its first official meeting on September 23rd at the Student Union Building.
The organization was founded by student Ajinkya Pawar and his colleagues. They saw a need for TAMUK to promote Indian culture, and wanted to establish an organization in which Indian students could feel unified. Pawar, president of AIS, experienced firsthand the difficulties Indian students face when getting accustomed to the university. “The reason we started the organization was because we saw many issues for Indian students when they came down to TAMUK.” he states, “At around 12 am, an AIS official revived a phone call from a student saying that they had no ride to get from the CPR airport to Kingsville. Unfortunately, the University shuttle doesn’t run at such a late hour. That is when we all decided that we need to help students who are coming into the university for the first time from India.” Since then, AIS has launched its mission to assist Indian students with accommodations, transportation, and cultural support.
The AIS student committee emphasizes the importance of promoting Indian culture to the Javelina Nation. The organization realizes that India has different events and festivals that vary by region, so AIS has developed a goal in which it will introduce all these events to the community. The first event of the season was Ganesh, held on September 5th. The event was a big success for AIS, and they hope to continue this trend with their upcoming October festivals Navratri and Diwali.
Vice President of AIS, Nilofar Sayyad, explains, “The basic aim is to bring all students together and keep unity in diversity.” Whether you are familiar with Indian culture or not, AIS wants to spread awareness of their traditions and festivals with everyone. Pawar further explains, “We want to bring all the festivals and cultural events that we have in India that students miss. We host them at the university so that the entire TAMUK community can enjoy them together.”
This is the first year AIS is introduced as a student organization, and it has received tremendous support from TAMUK students and faculty. Advisor of Pharmacy, Dr. Jayshiee Mishra, and International & Multicultural Event Coordinator, Ms. Elizabeth Laurence, are part of the TAMUK faculty who have guided AIS in its mission.
The opening AIS meeting had a turnout of over fifty students, all of who had a deep appreciation for the organization’s goals. Students said they feel right at home in AIS, and are glad to be able to embrace and share their culture. Student member, Dhrudipsinh, quoted, “This organization provides us with the opportunity to volunteer, organize, coordinate different events, and develop our skills.” Student Harinath Makala gave a personal experience on how he struggled with finding the location of his classrooms at TAMUK, and figuring out where and when events took place. However, after finding out about AIS, he’s been able to familiarize himself with the university and has had a whole new outlook. Kuldeep Serigh, food coordinator for the upcoming Diwali event states, “This university has been doing great for the students, and they still have more things in store.”
Even though this is the organization’s first year, AIS has become a family to its members, and TAMUK has become their home. AIS will continue to grow as an organization and host Indian cultural festivities throughout campus. Their main goals are to help students, help other organizations, and share Indian culture with the Javelina community.