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UMass Boston Student Starts New Club to Bring South Asian Students Together

Vikas Banga
Vikas Banga

Vikas Banga came to the US from Punjab, India at age 12. Now a 19-year-old computer science major here at UMass Boston, Banga is reaching out to international students just like him.

Building off an idea to unite four South Asian countries (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), Banga is currently working on a new club called the ‘Desi Student Association,’ or DSA for short.

Desi, for those who don’t know, is a slang term used for and by all four of these nationalities.

“Most of the culture is common between India, Pakistan and Nepal. Sri Lanka is a little bit different. But you can still tell that there are some similarities between us [all] just by looking at the similar traditions,” Banga says.

His ultimate mission for the new club is not only to unite these four nationalities through their similar cultures but also to help Desi students assimilate into American culture and to have a more advantageous overall experience at UMass Boston.

Banga recognizes that many students from South Asia currently attending UMass Boston have matriculated directly from their home countries. Banga understands that, because of their recent relocation to the US, Desi students may need help and guidance.

“That’s the main concern,” Banga asserts. “When kids come over here, they have a lot of questions, I know that because when I came here seven years ago I had a lot of questions,” Banga says.

Through the DSA, Banga hopes to offer Desi students a support system and a way to make them feel more comfortable throughout their time here at UMass. “I’m just trying to bring everyone together, because the thing is I’m part of all of these clubs [on campus] but I see students sitting outside and they ask me how I talk to everyone [and I feel] everyone should be united with each other.”

By bringing everyone together and collaborating with other student clubs, such as the Black Student Center, Banga hopes that his club will enable Desi students to feel more comfortable participating and, importantly, more comfortable about their speaking skills. “It’s going to help them… we’re going to help them become engaged with other students and clubs and have conversations and feel more comfortable about it,” Banga says.

Of course The DSA plans to help anyone who has questions or needs support. “We’re not only going to help South Asians, but everyone [that needs help]… I met a lot of students at an [English as a second language] program last summer who were struggling with the language.”

Banga hopes that by uniting these cultures and offering a place for them to go and meet other students he will also be offering help. “Any kind of question related to education or renting rooms around here we will help them out. We’re going to help them figure out if they don’t know [where things are] or if they have any questions for us we will be here to answer them.”

Find out more about The Desi Student Organization at www.facebook/desistudentassociation or email them at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Christina Giannapoulos served as the arts editor for The Mass Media the following years: Spring 2012; Fall 2012