Investigating Identity and Inclusivity

Anjana Iyer, a current Berkeley student, shares her insight about ISA and how it contributes to her identity and feeling of inclusion.

What are some ISA initiatives that have resonated most with you?

“I really like the work we’ve been doing this past year to be more inclusive of the Desi community by forming the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, as well as the work we’ve done to help support the Black Lives Matter movement. There’s a lot of anti-Black rhetoric that is ingrained into the South Asian mentality, and we’re working slowly to help raise awareness about this issue and to help students have those difficult conversations at home. These are a couple of causes that I’m personally also very passionate about, so it’s great to be a part of a club like ISA that is actually taking action!”

Why did you choose to get involved with ISA?

“I realized that other than my family and my friends in high school, I didn’t really have much exposure to Indian culture despite having grown up in the Bay Area, a very Desi-populated region. I had attended Garba, Diwali, and Holi as a freshman and I loved every event, so I figured it was a great time to get more involved in the South Asian community at Berkeley, which is why I decided to apply to ISA as a sophomore!”

What is the best part of the ISA community?

“I think the best part of ISA is the friendships we’ve made. I always feel right at home when I’m around them, and our socials and retreats have really helped us bond. Everyone is really supportive, and you never need to hesitate to reach out to anyone in the club if you ever have an issue or if you just want to grab dinner before our weekly meetings!

How do you think the ISA experience contributes to your student experience and your pursuits beyond?

“ISA has given me a much deeper look into South Asian culture in the United States (and in other countries)! I’ve met Indians from multiple states and countries, which is something I never got to do before coming to college. We all grew up with different perspectives and in different environments, and yet we all share so many common experiences. Being a part of ISA has allowed me to really appreciate my heritage, and as a filmmaker, it has steered my focus even more towards representing South Asian women of color in the entertainment industry!”

What is one tip you would give to your high school self?

I’d probably tell my high school self to be more open-minded. I’m a shy person, and I think I missed out on a lot of opportunities and friendships, both in high school and in my first year of college, because of that, and I only realized I needed to expand my perspective in my sophomore year. Getting as involved as I could allowed me to meet some really incredible people and make some very strong friendships, and all because I decided to get out of the house and go join a few clubs!

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