Hello! My name is Subarna and I’m a junior at the University of Michigan majoring in Community and Global Public Health with minors in Writing and Applied Statistics! I’m so excited to be a part of the College Ambassadors Program and to be given the chance to put my work on this platform for you all to engage with! This online platform is so valuable because it’s solely dedicated to uplifting South Asian voices, so I wanted to take this time to introduce you all to the various parts of my South Asian American experience, particularly on a large college campus!
The University of Michigan has an overwhelmingly large South Asian student body. I’m originally from Novi, Michigan, another South Asian hub in the area, so I came to college with almost all of the kids I went to school with. I thought I pretty much knew what to expect in terms of the South Asian scene; IASA and Bollywood dance teams, the same things we had in high school. I never felt like I fit into the Indian community at my high school, despite all of my friends being Indian; the community was just too overwhelming for me, and the social hierarchy was something I never wanted to be a part of. I thought college would bring the same environment, especially because I would be going to school with essentially the same people I’d grown up with.
But I was completely wrong. The community I found in the student orgs I joined had much more depth than any of the clubs or people I encountered in high school, so as my first piece as a College Ambassador, I wanted to give you all a brief introduction to my multilayered South Asian student organizations.
The first organization I joined was Michigan Sahana, dedicated to preserving and promoting Indian classical music and dance on campus and in the greater community. As a freshman, I was so glad to finally find a cultural organization that fit my own upbringing as a classical dancer, and a community where I could explore my own skills while learning from my peers as well.
Michigan Sahana makes the classical arts something anyone can relate to, instead of an ancient form that no one really understands; we’ve brought classical dance and music to the forefront of our campus’ cultural scene, drawing hundreds of attendees to our shows every year. As the 2020 President of this organization, I’ve tried my best to continue to execute this vision during a COVID semester; it hasn’t been easy, but every single one of my experiences in Michigan Sahana has allowed me to grow as an individual, friend, and leader.
Another organization that has greatly impacted me is the South Asian Awareness Network (SAAN), where we explore social justice themes through a South Asian lens. We host monthly dialogues and organize an annual conference, where we invite many South Asian figures in a variety of fields to speak about
their life experiences and identity. This organization has allowed me to open up and engage in conversations with those around me, and reflect on my own values and ideals and how those fit into the world. As last year’s Marketing Chair and this year’s Programming Chair, I’m getting the chance to build my professional skills and work intensely in event planning, which has brought me so much happiness and confidence in my own abilities. SAAN has been the catalyst that has allowed me to discover what it means to call myself a South Asian, and that has enhanced my perception of myself and my peers greatly.
The last organization I want to highlight is the most recent one I joined, yet it’s become so close to my heart. I rushed Sigma Sigma Rho Sorority, Inc. in the fall of my sophomore year. SSR is a South Asian values-based sorority with a philanthropy of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention. As a person who never imagined myself as fitting into a sorority, this group has welcomed me with open arms and has led me to grow close to some of the most important people in my life. The constant presence of resilient, hardworking women both at Umich as well as
across the country is inspirational to see as a young South Asian woman. While we’re all extremely different individuals, the way we come together as a cohesive unit reminds me that as many struggles as I may face in the future, I’ll always have people who know me to my core who will be there to support me.
In high school, I thought the fact that I didn’t fit into my Indian community meant that there was something wrong with me. But the past two years of college showed me that when placed in a conducive environment with a plethora of opportunities, it’s possible to find one’s niche. I’ve been lucky enough to find three niches that have braided together to make me who I am today, both as a South Asian American as well as a person of this world. I can’t imagine myself anywhere other than the University of Michigan, because the greatest thing I need to flourish is an endless series of opportunities that I can seize and make my own. That’s why I’m here in this College Ambassadors Program now; I’m so excited to bring my experiences and perspectives to the South Asian Productions platform and to learn from you all as well.