Disha Kalyan, a current junior at Ohio State University, outlines her journey to becoming a member and now president of IAA. Iris hears her story.
How did you get involved with IAA?
“I was actually shown to IAA during high school! As a Bhangra dancer from Columbus, I knew of a lot of people in the OSU community that guided me to the organization. In my first year, I became a freshman representative, which is a member in the IAA board that helps other freshmen become more involved and transition into the community.”
Can you run us through some of the programs IAA leads?
“A big part of our events are cultural shows that friends and family can attend. All 4 years put on a performance and because OSU is known for our dancing community we have many of our dance groups also perform. Last year, I was treasurer and we held our ‘Suits and Sarees gala which was heaps of fun.”
Where do you see IAA going forward?
“Definitely, we are focused on redefining what ‘Indian’ means and branching out a bit more. We want to change the stereotype that you have to be a dancer to be involved and really try and establish a more inclusive community. We are often seen as a ‘party’ school but it would be nice to spread our culture and dive more into the education and service space. I really feel we can maximize our potential and start working with specific non-profits. Further, we would love to start collaborating more with the Indian Students Association. Typically, we host Diwali and Holi together but it would be great to have further collaboration.”
Can you tell us about the best ways to learn about IAA?
“We are involved in the club fair every fall and spring where people can come visit and ask questions. We also have a general body meeting where many of the dance teams are also present. Social media is huge with our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as the best points of contact. In addition, our email list is a great way to learn about our updates, even if you aren’t a member. In terms of formal positions, we have the freshman representative applications released two weeks into the school year and also have an application and interview process for board positions. Those occur the end of the year before. Our board consisted of 15-20 people in total.”
How do you think IAA contributed to your college experience?
“I definitely had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people and strengthen relationships with those I knew from before. IAA also introduced me to other organisations like Buckeye Mela for which I am now the Finance Chair. I would say when I was growing up, I felt a little ashamed of being Indian but IAA taught me that being different and having a community is the best part of my cultural identity.”
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