Home » Community » Celebration of Indo-American Heritage Day at Jungman Library, May 12

Celebration of Indo-American Heritage Day at Jungman Library, May 12

NASA Astronaut,Ms. Sunita Williams delivering the Key note speech for the Indo-American Heritage Day.May 12.

NASA Astronaut,Ms. Sunita Williams delivering the Key note speech for the Indo-American Heritage Day.May 12.

by Nish Bhan
On May 12, 2018 members of the Indo-American community gathered at the Jungman Neighborhood Library to celebrate their culture. The event, which showcased the art, food, culture and spirit of the Indian Subcontinent, was presented by the Houston Public Library(HPL) in partnership with the Foundation for India Studies (FIS).
Keynote Speaker was a NASA astronaut of Indian descent, Sunita Williams, and the guest of Honor was Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India to the Southwestern United States. The program began with a traditional Indian dance performed by Ms. Soujanya Madhusudan, Associate Director of Bharatha Darshana School of Indian Dance & Music, followed by remarks from Jennifer Schwartz, Manager of Programming for the Houston Public Library. Then, Krishna Vavilala, FIS’ founder and chairman introduced Dr. Ray. The Consul General spoke on the nature of Indian heritage, remarking that Ms. Sunita Williams is herself a personification of Indo-American heritage, by virtue of her name. He also noted that Indian culture is about keeping your feet firm on the ground while reaching out for the skies. Dr. Ray also recited a Sanskrit sloka which is inscribed in the Indian parliament stating that, for small minded people, petty differences are important, but for broad minded people, the whole world is one family-“Vasudhika Kutumbakam”
Fundamentally, Dr. Ray’s message sought to drive home the unique ideas at the core of being Indian–the desire to improve and prosper for the good of all mankind, and a recognition that the whole world is one family, as the Sanskrit saying goes.
Ms. Schwartz then introduced the keynote speaker, Sunita Williams. Ms. Williams, who was accompanied by her father, Dr. Deepak Pandya, delivered an engaging speech focusing on what she has learned throughout her time in space.

Key Note speaker NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Chief Guest, Consul General, Dr. Anupam Ray received awards from FIS Chair, Krishna Vavilala

Key Note speaker NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Chief Guest, Consul General, Dr. Anupam Ray received awards from FIS Chair, Krishna Vavilala

Ms. Williams spoke about how she joined the Navy and became an astronaut and how she, who has an Indian father and a American mother of Slovenian descent, is truly “Indo-American” in every sense of the word. Her speech detailed the unique lessons she learned while looking at the earth from the space, especially her focus and interest in the unique human message. She remarked that, fundamentally, far more things unify us than divide us as a species, and that for her, going to space is emblematic of this truth. She also recalled the unique challenges presented by operating on the International Space Station, and then devoted some time to discuss NASA’s future plans for space exploration aided by video presentations.
Another key part of her message was to America’s children, who she encouraged to explore science and never be limited in their aspirations. Her message was “The finish line does not matter. Get on to the starting line first. It is a journey and mankind has just begun.”
Astronaut Sunita Williams said on the International Space Station (ISS) you will learn to work with people from different nationalities. Food is a big deal on ISS. Listening and sharing with other people is the key to work on the ISS.
Schedules are busy on ISS and going to toilet is not fun, she said.. Sights from ISS are pretty spectacular. Space exploration makes you think outside the box and work together, she said.
Sunita summarized where we are in commercial exploration of space and said, probably by end of 2019 to beginning of 2020 , human exploration of Mars is possible.
“ I did not get into schools I wanted to get in. Instead I joined the Navy and became a helicopter pilot and finally a test pilot.
She never thought she would become an astronaut. She thought she would become a veterinarian.

 Helen Chou and Jennifer Schwartz, of HPL managed and Emceed the 4-hour long program that also included an interactive Q&A session with the astronaut. Other attractions included Indian songs and dances, a quiz on India, Madhubani paintings workshop and for the first time, recitation and recitation and explanation of Vedas.

Helen Chou and Jennifer Schwartz, of HPL managed and Emceed the 4-hour long program that also included an interactive Q&A session with the astronaut. Other attractions included Indian songs and dances, a quiz on India, Madhubani paintings workshop and for the first time, recitation and recitation and explanation of Vedas.

She mentioned Mr. Rakesh Sharma Indian astronaut, late astronaut Kalpan Chawla and NASA’s fresh Indian American recruit, Mr. Raja Chari, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force.
End of 2019 or beginning of 2020 we will have this DRAGON capsule launched on FALCON9 rocket built by Boeing to fly to Mars.
She quoted Albert Einstein “ It is not what we can do now, but it is the imagination “an often quoted saying of Einstein by her father, Dr. Deepak Pandya in his books.
A short Q&A session followed and then Mr. Krishna Vavilala presented FIS mementos to both Sunita Williams and Dr. Anupam Ray.
FIS is proud to have introduced a variety of new items in this year’s Heritage Day celebration. They were :
· An oral recitation and explanation of Vedas by Mr. Sitaram Ayyagari
· A lecture demonstration explaining expressions and various mudras of Indian dances by Ms. Pallavi Kumar, Founder of Laasika School of Dance
· Live painting and display of Madhubani paintings from Mithila, Bihar by Ms. Tanushri Misra assisted by her hiusband Amaresh.
· Dances by students of Bharata Darshana School of India Classical Dance and Music. About 30 kids participated, wearing regional dresses of different states of India.
· Telugu and Hindi songs were sung by Telugu children brought up in this country, organized by Mr. Sunil Kommineni
· An India-BEE fun quiz conducted by Mr. Soundarya Sahoni which attracted a number of participants, young and old who tested their knowledge about India and were rewarde with small gifts.
The Indo-American Heritage Day of the Foundation for India Studies was presented by the Houston Public Library under its new series called the Living Room at HPL. It is all about neighbors meeting neighbors and getting to know each other in an informal living room setting and promote meaningful conversations across communities, said Jennifer Schwartz the overall program Manager.
Helen Chou, Manager of International Services and a co-emcee to Jennifer wore a beautiful Indian Sari which she had bought in Hyderabad, India. during her tour of Southern India, Dominick Spinelli, Manager, Jungman Neighborhood Library Branch and Ana Frade and Carmen Abrego supervised the day’s arrangements.
Allen Westrick provided technical support for audio/video
Media Releases were handled by Blanca Quezada of City of Houston.
The NASA Astronaut appearance administrator, Ms.Myritha.J.Cleveland handled all the communications between FIS and NASA.
Tasty Indian food was provided by Nirmanz restaurant, courtesy of Mr. Nirman Shah
The event was attended by about 300. Traffic and parking was well managed by HPL volunteers.
For full video coverage of the event, please visit the link:
https://www.facebook.com/The.Foundation.For.India.Studies/videos/1766866216711156/·


More news

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *