Student organization holds annual day of service to honor Gandhi

Dubai sophomore Areesha Velani, Austin senior Shivani Naik, Plainfield, Illinois junior Greeshma Chilukuri, and Houston junior Farhin Ali enjoy breakfast together before heading out for service. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Holly Luttrell | Reporter

Volunteers went to work at organizations around Waco on Saturday morning for the Indian Subcontinental Student Association’s (ISSA) annual Be the Change day.

Be the Change day is also hosted by Delta Epsilon Psi and Delta Kappa Delta, a South Asian fraternity and sorority, respectively. The event was created and named in honor of the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi.

“It was his vision to be the change you wish to see in the world,” said Flower Mound sophomore Alek Virani, ISSA service chair. “So it’s really cool because he was like a huge figure in not just India, but in the world. He’s made a big impact on a lot of social activities and peace and helping out. What we want to do is help out our community, and we chose Waco.”

Participants in the event met at 8 a.m. to have breakfast and receive their assignments before being sent out to volunteer in the city. Volunteers reported to local organizations to help with any tasks that needed to be completed.

Throughout the morning, some volunteers helped clean the Habitat for Humanity store as they prepare for an event this week. One group helped build a prayer garden for Mission Waco, while other workers helped clean and repair exhibits at the Cameron Park Zoo. Groups applied fresh paint to worn-down buildings and picked up trash around the city. Volunteers with Be the Change day focused on dedicating their morning to serving their local community.

“The reason we do the event itself is to honor [Mahatma Ghandi] and his service,” said Carrollton senior Zaayan Tharwani, ISSA president. “Being the Indian Subcontinental Student Association, kind of embracing that side of culture and social activism as well, just to honor him is not only done here at Baylor, it’s slowly become more of a national thing.”

The organization continued its day of service after helping at the Waco organizations in the morning. When the groups finished their work and returned to campus, they shared a lunch and worked together to create “busy books” for children in Texas hospitals.

“What it is is construction paper and coloring books and activities that go toward all these kids in the ER who don’t have much to do while they’re there. It’s a really awesome thing that we are creating and I hope these kids will enjoy it,” Virani said.

ISSA is working to make its Be the Change event a prominent part of Baylor’s service efforts. Along with the hosting other organizations, invitations to participate were extended to several groups on campus. The Vietnamese Student Association, NAACP and the Lead Living-Learning Center were among the organizations that attended.

“It’s an ISSA event, but we really try to make it more of a campus wide thing,” said Tharwani. “We’re a little bit of a smaller organization compared to others, so we’re just trying to get the whole tradition of Be the Change to become bigger and bigger.”

The Be the Change event was open to any student who wanted to help honor Mahatma Ghandi’s legacy of activism by serving communities in Waco and beyond.