The Indian Student Association at the University of Minnesota has begun a video project that aims to explicate the perspectives of first generation, second generation, and immigrant students on campus. The Indian Perspective — with its video-journalistic style— combines the intimacy of personal insight with plain and straightforward interview videos. Both the minutiae of everyday life and perspectives of Indian students are revealed in dialogues. Through this simple communication, however, broader issues of mental health and cultural identity emerge.
The aim of the project is to highlight the broad-based plurality of issues and experiences that occur in the United States and India. While allowing for non-Indian students to gain a sensitivity and understanding of the South Asian ways of living within American universities, it enables Indian students to express their sense of self by giving voice to personal accounts and experiences. “I think that hearing voices of several different Indian students can paint a … more collective picture of what different sides or different states or different parts of the culture look like.” said Sourojit Ghosh, one of the interviewees.
Common understandings of different cultures, identities, and values have been essential in attracting Indian students to the United States. With 166,000 Indian students coming to the United States in the 2015/16 academic year, America ranks as the top destination for Indian students studying abroad. This student transfer added $5 billion to the US economy. In Minnesota, the economic impact was valued at over $45 million. For these economic additions to continue, US students and universities must further engage in cross-cultural collaboration with Indian students and organizations.
The final edition of The Indian Perspective is expected to be posted on the project’s Facebook page in March.
Toby Warden is an intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and a student at the University of Sydney in Australia.