Charity gala showcases Indian lifestyle

The Indian Student Association dance team delivers a lively performance at Saturday night’s Gala. Proceeds from the gala went toward funding girls’ education in Pakistan. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

Savannah Cooper | Staff Writer

Baylor stuents hail from all over Texas, the country and the world and when they arrive in Waco, they bring a bit of their culture with them. On Saturday night, the Indian Subcontinent Student Association (ISSA) hosted its 11th annual charity gala, the proceeds of which go toward funding girls’ education in Pakistan.

ISSA works with Development in Literacy, a non-profit organization that works to empower children and encourage education in Northern India and Pakistan. According to the Development in Literacy website, the organization has started 124 schools across Pakistan with 51 computer labs that are making education more accessible to young girls and making a community-wide impact.

Fort Worth sophomore Saloni Khushal, a member of the ISSA dance team, attended the gala because of her passion for her heritage and her desire to share that heritage with other students.

“My love for my culture brought me out tonight,” Khushal said. “I want to spread this culture across Baylor’s campus because it’s so rich and beautiful. The traditions that we have, what we believe, what we stand for, just being Indian.”

Henna tattoos, a photo booth and silent auction raffles greeted guests at the door. With primarily Bollywood music setting the mood, close to 100 people gathered at the event. After a brief introduction to the event by two MC’s , a buffet-style dinner took place.

Sugar Land sophomore Iman Dawson wore a white abaya, a traditional Pakistani outfit. She said she notices that people who aren’t knowledgeable about the subcontinental region tend to just look at the news and make vast assumptions about Pakistan.

“In the subcontinental region which spans from India up toward Afghanistan there’s thousands of different types of people,” Dawson said. “You can’t just clump us into, ‘Oh they’re Indian, oh they’re Pakistani.’ Muslims definitely aren’t terrorists, there’s no such thing as Islamic terrorism, someone can claim something –– doesn’t mean it’s true. I can claim that my skin is blue — doesn’t mean it’s true. That goes the same with Islamic terrorism.”

After dinner was served, the ISSA dance team performed upbeat Bollywood style dances. Following the dances, the introduction of the silent auction prizes took place, which ranged from a lemon bundt cake to a member of ISSA’s painting of Gandhi.

The board recognized all who donated, and concluded with a light-hearted guessing game where guests matched the executive board member to their baby picture. To end the night, ISSA turned down the lights, turned up the speakers and opened the dance floor, encouraging attendees to dance to traditional Indian music as well as popular American hits.

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