India Night promotes cultural awareness


Students watch a presentation on the history and culture of Inda at KSIM’s India Night in the Williamson Alumni Center on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.

Kaitlin Siegel

The Kent State International Mentors celebrated India Night on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the Williamson Alumni Center.

The night featured presentations by Amulya Vanga, an applied mathematics graduate student, and Rajhesh Babu, a computer science gradute student, who are both international mentor members. Their presentation touched on a multitude of subjects including Indian culture, architecture, fashion and religion. 

Babu explained India’s contributions to the world, such as chess, trigonometry, algebra and calculus, while Vanga presented information about famous Indian tourist attractions, such as the Taj Mahal, and explained the symbolism portrayed in the Indian flag.

Carrie Circosta, co-advisor of the organization, said the Kent State International Mentors initially began as a residence program in Koonce Hall in 2009 and was called the Koonce International Mentorship. She said the program changed its name to the Kent State International Mentors in 2010 and has expanded to more than just a residence program. 

“It can be very intimidating coming to the U.S. to study,” Circosta said. “I think a lot of them are very brave, and I think a lot of U.S. students are curious to get to know these students.”

The Kent State International Mentors program pair an international student with an American student. The two are required to meet every week and engage in conversations in English. The organization also plans group activities, trips, cultural awareness nights and other events.

Circosta said India Night is a part of a country spotlight event series in which different cultures are featured every week. 

“We want to give students the opportunity to educate others about their home countries,” Circosta said. She also said the group has significantly grown in numbers, from an original 40 members to 140 members since its inception in 2009.

Javier Vanegas, a member of the Kent State International Mentors, is a junior exchange student from El Salvador who said he joined the group because he wanted to make more friends from different countries. 

“I heard about the group from the social media director Ismael Komar, and I think it improves your professional experiences here,” Vanegas said.

Halle Miller, a freshman marketing major, is also a member of the Kent State International Mentors. Miller said she initially heard about the group during Kent State’s BlastOff. 

“I just have a general interest in foreign countries and cultures, and I’m minoring in Japanese,” Miller said. “It was cool to learn all about the Indian buildings and the dance.”

The Kent State International Mentors recently celebrated its 5th anniversary Friday, Sept. 26.

Contact Kaitlin Siegel at [email protected]