Home Diverse Voices Indian student finds piece of home through UNL campus organization

Indian student finds piece of home through UNL campus organization

Navya Singh, a sophomore computer science major, sits in a booth in the UNL Union Crib
Navya Singh was born and raised in India and is currently studying computer science at UNL. (Photo by Sarah Parkin)

Navya Singh came to UNL from India and arrived to a university of strangers.

“When I came to Nebraska, I didn’t really know many people,” she said.

Then she found the India Student Association. They helped her handle the hardest part of moving across the world to get an education: homesickness.

“Once you get to know them, it feels a little like home. Now, it’s all become a part of a family,” Singh said. 

UNL offers a variety of student associations solely dedicated to bringing cultural experiences from abroad to the Lincoln campus. These types of organizations not only diversify campus, they also help international students feel at home. 

The India Student Association, according to their website, is an on-campus student organization aimed at creating “an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students.” The organization brings traditional Indian festivals and celebrations to the UNL campus and is run by Indian students. These fellow members helped Singh become comfortable in the U.S.

Sajjan Grover is the current vice president of the India Student Association. He said the group has also made his life at UNL easier through development of his leadership and organization skills. 

“I would say being a part of ISA has really helped me become a better student and leader,” Grover said. “Overall, when you already have all these skills in student life, that makes student life way better than what it could be. This is an awesome experience that taught me to manage and have a stress free PhD life.”

Singh is currently the treasurer of the India Student Association. It was through joining this organization that she found a way to help bring Indian events to campus. One of the most important events is Diwali Night. 

Diwali is a Hindu festival held during the fall with ceremonies and traditional food. The India Student Association will be holding their Diwali Night on November 2nd this year. 

“We call it a festival of light,” Singh said. “The main model of the story is that goodness wins over evil.”

Singh believes that these events not only bring part of India to UNL, but they make Indian students feel more at home. Family and festivals are important aspects of Indian culture Singh is lacking, but she especially yearns the cuisine. 

“That is the most essential thing I’m missing right now,” Singh said.

Singh fills her void for Indian food through cooking with her friends and roommates. She also recommends The Oven, a restaurant located in the Haymarket, as a great spot for Indian food in Lincoln. 

Despite being far away from home, Singh found that UNL was a very diverse and welcoming place to attend college in the United States. The education was a large factor in the decision to be a Husker. She enjoys the difference in American education compared to Indian education. 

“It’s a lot more practical knowledge than theoretical knowledge,” Singh said. “Here, they’re actually trying to tell you how to do it in real life.”

The students at UNL have also lived up to the expectations of Nebraskans. 

“Specifically, I feel like it has been very welcoming. If you go and interact with somebody, the people are more accepting to international students,” Singh said. “Nebraskans in general are very nice people.”

I am a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I also study global studies and political science. . I am particularly interested in human rights-based journalism and hope to pursue a career reporting human rights issues domestically and internationally. I am originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota