Celebrating Diwali

Pooja (left) wearing a sari with her friend

Pooja Das, India, St. Ambrose University

Last month I celebrated Diwali, a very important Hindu festival which is celebrated with great enthusiasm by many around the world. I had a wonderful Diwali at St. Ambrose University with my friends, including my Global UGRAD friends! We all dressed in our traditional clothes and had dinner together.

Additionally, I was invited by a student ambassador to celebrate the festival with a local Indian community organization. The best part of this experience was being able to meet new friends from different countries and Indian Americans. I choreographed a dance for this group and I met members of the community to practice on the weekends. During our practice sessions, we shared our cultures, traditions, and food.

While it was difficult to teach kathak (a type of classical Indian dance), we succeeded on the final day. We performed at a Diwali festival which was held at Bettendorf High School. At the end of the concert, I felt the love from the community around me. I also received a gift from the head of the community for my participation.

This was the best Diwali that I have had in my life. Thank you Global UGRAD for giving me the opportunity to explore various cultures and share my own.

Pooja (far right) with her dance team
Pooja (top left) with her university friends

Waddhna In, Cambodia, University of the Incarnate Word 

This is my first time being abroad. Having hands-on experience and enriching my understanding of other cultures is one of my main goals in life. Due to my interest in dance, I participated in the University of the Incarnate Word’s dance team and joined the Asian Culture Club. On November 7th, our dance team (including a fellow Global UGRAD from Russia) and I performed to two beautiful Indian songs to celebrate the Diwali Festival,

Waddhna dancing to a Bollywood song with students on campus
Waddhna (right) with Tatyana (fellow Global UGRAD)

the Hindu festival of light. The performance took place in the open space in front of the library so that people who passed by had a chance to join us, celebrate the festival, and cheer on the team. Never limit yourself. Express your own culture while also expressing yourself through other cultures.