Local Color Festival Makes Global Impact for India Schools

Published: March 20, 2015 | Author: Brittany Cecil | Read Time: 3 minutes

Student Vishhant Lama for experiential university project in IndiaA global experience with Southern Utah University’s EDGE (Education Designed to Give Experience) program started a few years ago allowing students real life opportunities to go places and do things undergraduate students at larger universities don’t have the privilege to do.

Vishhant Lama and Cody Sanders took the opportunity to make a global impact with their EDGE project. Lama, originally from India, and Sanders began planning a vacation to India but the trip soon turned into a way to positively impact struggling students.

Once in India the two began visiting schools and had an eye opening experience seeing the conditions these students were studying in. Lama said, “When we went to the schools and saw the school situation and student needs we realized how much we were needed, some kids didn’t even have shoes and they walk four miles each day to go to school through rivers and stuff.”

Having seen the schools, Lama remembered a goal he had set at a young age, “I am from India, went to a catholic school and had a great education but my house neighbored a really poor school. I always thought that when I got older I would do something for them. So I moved to the US and came to SUU. Because of my education I realized I can do more now because I have the tools that EDGE gave me.”

While in India Lama and Sanders were able to teach English to multiple primary schools in located in urban and rural settings, and even gave funds to the schools to help buy supplies and shoes for the children.

But they aren’t letting it end there. Vishant added, “Once you see the kids’ faces you can just feel that you need to do it again. We were not satisfied with just doing it once, we wanted to help them out more.”

Lama and Sanders decided that the best way to do that would be to start a club at SUU that could continually earn money to send back to the kids of India through culture festivals hosted on campus. Through this idea Siksha was born.

Siksha, meaning “education” in Hindi, was formed and began inspiring students and soon funds were raised with the first color festival.

“The color festival made a big difference in helping SUU students know about the Hindu culture and India,” added Lama.

The first color festival raised more than $3,000, with all proceeds going toward sending more aid to the struggling Indian students.

Both Lama and Sanders are graduating in May with acceptance letters to medical schools but both hope to continue Siksha in their respective universities. Each ultimately plans to use their medical degrees to continue to help struggling populations, especially those in India.

The annual Festival of Colors will be happening this Saturday, March 21 from 1-3:30 on the Thunderbird Park grounds (just north of the SUU soccer fields). The event will be full of Indian cultured singing, Bollywood style dancing and color throwing.

If you wish to support the Indian children the purchase of color chalk or t-shirts is available at the event. All proceeds will be sent to schools in Siliguri, India.

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