By Amanda Joerndt
According to the vice president of the Youngstown State University Nepalese Student Association, Nepalese students host cultural festivals and celebrations to feel closer to their home country.
“International students can have a hard time finding new things here at YSU,” Prinshep Yadav, a sophomore mathematics major, said.
YSU’s Nepalese Student Association hosted a Dashain and Tihar festival at the DeBartolo Stadium Club on Oct. 27. Dashain and Tihar are the most notable festivals celebrated in the Nepalese culture, with traditional dancing and singing performances, a custom blessing and other colorful celebrations.
Yadav said the club “focuses on developing the culture [at YSU].”
“Every year, the association puts on the Dashain and Tihar event, which is a festival that we celebrate in Nepal,” Yadav said. “We wanted to celebrate it at YSU to develop the culture and let everyone know about the culture.”
According to Yadav, being able to build new friendships at the university is an additional bonus of the celebration.
“We hope the international students talk with the domestic students and make new friends,” Yadav said. “It’s more about being warm and welcoming.”
Shilpa Bhandari, a junior mathematics and computer science major, is a member of the Nepalese Student Association and sang the national anthem and a traditional song with other members.
For Bhandari, creating a sense of family among the Nepalese group at YSU has helped her get through tough times while studying in America.
“You’re not by yourself when you have a festival and not crying in your doom room because you’re missing family,” Bhandari said. “You can dance and sing with your friends to celebrate your culture.”
During the festival, a “tika” blessing, “symbolizing the blessings for good fortune, health and long life,” was offered for attendees to receive.
“We are celebrating the Dashain festival today, but we also have tika, which means we are getting blessings from the older people, and it’s a form of a blessing,” Bhandari said.
Shuiping Jiang, the assistant director for international admissions and recruitment at YSU, said although she doesn’t usually work directly with international students, many student workers in the office are Nepalese.
“I actually hired a few student workers, and two-thirds of them are Nepalese students because they’re so smart and dedicated,” Jiang said.
She sang with members of the Nepalese Student Association during the Dashain and Tihar festival, supporting the club’s initiative to feel closer to home.
“This will help me and my family members because we’re all foreigners, so to us, we just want to highly get involved with the events and enjoy the cross-cultural experience,” Jiang said.
According to Jiang, everything was perfect, from the dancing and singing participation to the food provided.
“This is the most beneficial to me and will enlarge your vision and make you become an open-minded person,” she said.
Nathan Myers, associate provost for international and global initiatives at YSU, said when people think of the university, he hopes they think of YSU as an opportunity-driven school.
“We think about that in terms of opportunity to get a degree, education and a good job and that happens too, but there’s a whole different opportunity that’s happening at this level where we are understanding different cultures,” Myers said.
According to Myers, he wants YSU to be known as a “center for culture.”
“For any international student coming in, we hope that we can show them the best of what America is, and there’s different things that make America a great country, and we want to show them that.”
Myers said having students and outside residents attend the celebrations help create a cordial community.
“What we hope to accomplish with these kinds of things is as people begin to work together with cross cultures, it actually fosters an understanding and basically a more peaceful society,” he said.