• Taeko Gupta

RSO Feature: Aditi Joglekar on SASA and the global community at UMass

"I didn't really get the chance to celebrate my Indian culture as much as I wanted while growing up. So, I saw SASA as an opportunity to make up for what I missed out on, embracing my heritage through cultural events. I felt a sense of pride that I didn't feel before."

Aditi Joglekar, 2020

Aditi Joglekar, a senior at UMass, is the president of the South Asian Student Association (SASA). She entered the SASA Community as a freshman, young and eager to enact change and create large scale events.

Decorations for SASA Night and Garbhangra

“Growing up in Arlington MA, a predominately white town, I had only been surrounded by South Asians when visiting India. So it felt very empowering to have that experience in America.”

For big events such as formals and SASA Night, Joglekar meticulously coordinates with caterers, vendors, decorates, and other E-Board members to execute these elaborate events with flawlessness.

"I owe a lot of credit to the E-Board for keeping up with me and executing the vision of these events. They put in the work, ensuring that these events are inclusive and transformative."

SASA E-Board at SASA Night 2019

SASA E-Board at SASA Night 2019

Within the umbrella organization of SASA, there are multiple performance groups such as Dadak, Jazba, and ICAS, which are dance groups; Raang, an a cappella group; and Greek life. Many of the SASA events are co-hosted with these performance groups and Boston University’s Bhangra team. Joglekar’s next goal is to continue inviting other college performance groups to showcase their culture and talent at UMass. “This encourages SASA to forge connections across the country to make our network so much stronger, going beyond UMass, and Massachusetts in general.”

ICAS, BU Bhangra, and Dhadak performance groups

Beyond its events and performances, SASA also works to make a difference for students on campus, particularly by encouraging mental health conversations, which are heavily silenced and stigmatized in the South Asian community, says Joglekar. As president, this is something that she wanted to change since day one. In the fall of 2019, SASA hosted its first Mental Health Workshop. The workshop was interactive, featuring speakers from non-profits who specialize in South Asian mental health awareness. Joglekar emphasized that this is something the E-Board hopes to continue on a regular basis.

“The only way to break down this issue is to take baby steps… Hopefully, the workshop helped dispel a lot of the myths about mental health that are embedded into South Asian culture.”

This event required a lot of planning because the E-Board wanted to make it unique to the South Asian students and their experiences. Joglekar expresses that they, “could have invited a psychology professor from UMass to speak about mental health, but the workshop was enhanced because the professionals incorporated their cultural contexts into the understanding of mental health, and they encouraged us to do the same.”

SASA Mental Health Workshop 2019

When reflecting on the future of SASA, Joglekar says it takes a collective effort to enhance the global connectivity within UMass. It is the duty of students of color to use their cultural communities as a teaching tool, and the duty of all students to show up, learn, provide solidarity and immerse themselves into other cultures, engaging in these educational experiences. She believes that hate is still very much alive on this campus and in order to eradicate it, students and cultures have to band together and be stronger, louder, and more influential than the hate that pervades.

“The beauty of UMass is that we have all these amazing cultural groups to learn from and collaborate with. So, I hope that in the future SASA will work to bridge the gaps between other cultural groups, through co-hosting events. I think that breaking down those barriers will enhance the events and create a stronger global community here at UMass.”

Interested in SASA? Check out their socials!

IG: @umass_sasa, @umassdhadak, @umassicas, @bubhangra

Facebook: UMass SASA

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