By ERIN KIM
Among the various cultural clubs at UHS, the South Asian Student Association (SASA) has an especially significant presence on campus. With members of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Sri Lankan ethnicities, SASA aims to promote the diverse cultures of the South Asian subcontinent through various social events, cultural shows and fundraisers.
One of SASA’s most well known events is the annual Culture Show it hosts with the other Irvine high schools and Beckman High School. SASA’s Head Dance Coordinator, Shradha Mididaddi (Sr.), choreographs a Bollywood routine every year to perform at the show as well as the UHS Dance Showcase. As for fundraisers, SASA has donated $200 to Nepal and $120 to Chenai for natural disaster relief efforts and is currently working to contribute to the Malala Fund.
Always on the lookout for opportunities to further spread South Asian culture, SASA took advantage of Intercultural Week by participating in the week’s lunchfests. “Every year, we usually set a table where we showcase the different achievements, specialities and iconic people of the South Asian region,” stated Mididaddi. During lunchfest on Tuesday, UHS SASA dancers led by Mididaddi performed cultural dances from SASA’s annual Culture Show. Mididaddi described the inspirations behind her choreography, “I love dance, so whether I am practicing, performing or choreographing, I kind of live every second of it. One thing I try to keep throughout any dance routine is passion. So when I choreograph, I try to think of ways to make it even more engaging for both the dancers and the audience so that everyone has a great time.” During Wednesday’s lunchfest, SASA held a Henna Station. Srilekha Gnanashanmugam (Sr.), Tashia Ovais (Sr.) and Nayana Bhatnagar (Sr.) drew small hand designs for UHS students.
Mehar Nangia (Sr.), SASA’s president, offered his insight on the club’s success at UHS. “A lot of it [SASA’s success] is honestly due to Uni having a huge South Asian population. But on top of that we’re all just really passionate about our culture probably due to our parents pushing us all from a young age to respect our history.”
The pride SASA members have for their heritage has inspired cultural appreciation and interest in South Asian culture among non-SASA members at UHS. Eirene Ding (So.), is of Chinese descent but plans to participate in Mididaddi’s Bollywood dance at the UHS Dance Showcase this year. “I’m doing Bollywood for Showcase because after I saw it performed last year, I really wanted to do it. Bollywood is such a fun, energetic style, and I love trying new styles of dance,” explained Ding. She also stated that rehearsals for the Bollywood piece have been an enriching learning experience and that she is excited for to perform.
Mididaddi summarized the purpose of SASA and its significance at UHS, “Essentially, SASA is a club that celebrates the differences and similarities of the South Asian countries by encouraging people to understand the rich and colorful region. And really, it’s also a great way to take a study break, meet new people and catch up with friends.”