Indo-American friendship day dinner raises money for local elementary schools
While thousands gathered on Court Street for the Halloween Block Party, more than 400 guests invested their money through the charitable works of the 28th annual Indo-American Friendship Day dinner.
In 1986, the idea was proposed to create a better understanding between the two largest democracies in the world — the U.S. and India. Thus, three professors at Ohio University established the Athens Friends of India Endowment group.
The dinner, which is one of the main events the organization throws, was held in Baker Ballroom on Saturday night. While waiting for the dinner, a cultural program began as guests watched a Bharatanatyam dancer from Washington D.C., a John Lennon tribute duo and a children’s dance group who stole the audience’s hearts.
“This year, half of the money is going to Amesville Elementary School library. We are going to be giving them around $5,000,” said Rajindar Koshal, one of the founders of Friends of India and professor Emeritus of economics. “We are talking children in this poor area are not learning. They need these facilities.”
The Rotary Club of Athens, partners with Friends of India, will also give $5,000. Amesville is expected to receive a total of $25,000 for a new library.
“The other half of the money is going to scholarships for students studying abroad in India. Students with any major can go over and study from a wide range of skills India has to offer,” Koshal said.
The group’s awareness efforts have also brought in scholars who lecture on Indian philosophy from the “Know India” program for sixth graders in local schools, where children learn about India and receive prizes.
Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for global affairs and brief speaker at the event, noted how successful this organization has grown and how friendships can lead to business friendships between countries through those involved.
But, Edmonds expressed a concern in improvement, saying the international students of the school are the ones making the friendships and the networks while the domestic students do not engage and take advantage of networking to that extent.
Ideal solutions for this problem involve both native and international students making an effort.
“People who gather together, whether they are black, white, Muslim, Christian (or) Indian, and can converse together on their similarities as people at this dinner are doing now, that should be celebrated,” said Hashim Pashtun, vice president of Graduate Student Senate, who is studying engineering.