By: Haley Regan
Name: Aswathi Pradeep
Hometown: Born in India, grew up in Overland Park
Major: Civil Engineering
Year in school: Junior
Aswathi Pradeep is a junior studying civil engineering. He was born in India, and grew up in Overland Park.
Q: Do you have a job?
A: Yeah! I work at KAP, so I teach Math 101, and I also work in the Help Room, so that’s my main job. I go to class, I am a co-president for KU SASA, which is KU’s South Asian Student Association, I dance for KU Jeeva, which is an Indian dance fusion team here, and that’s pretty fun. I’m in the Self Program in the Engineering School, which is just a fellowship. I dance for the fun of it, I hang out with friends, I read.
Q: Tell me what SASA is.
A: SASA is a student association that represents South Asian countries, like Pakistan and India, Bangladesh, all those South Asian countries. So we try to put up events and programs that represent those countries specifically. Just this weekend we had formal, and it was called Bollywood Nights. What we did was, we had like a pageant kind of thing. It was more like a trivia pageant where people competed to see how many trivia questions about these countries or about Bollywood they knew, and they got prizes for that. There was dancing, Bollywood music, and it was a lot of fun.
Q: Why is it important for you to stay connected to your culture?
A: I think that’s just something my parents instilled in me once we moved here. I am growing up in an American lifestyle, but I should keep close to my roots. That’s just what I grew up with when I was at home. Then I found my niche in KU SASA, I’ve been involved with that since I’ve been here and I just love it. I have so much of a deep connection to my culture and I find it so fascinating, I still don’t really even understand my own culture, that I can still learn from it. And then taking that knowledge and spreading it to people has always been a passion of mine. I really enjoy it. That’s why I think it’s really important for me to be in that club and help spread at least awareness, and respect for different cultures.
Q: How would you say that your experience here is different from a typical American student?
A: I definitely have a more cultural awareness. I know people here have a quick fascination towards other cultures, especially in Lawrence and I’ve definitely felt that. I just have a relatability, I feel, just because I have those two cultures within me. America is where I grew up, but I still have those foundational Indian roots, and I still go back, and I still have that culture. So I am a mix of those two cultures, and when someone else tries to explain their culture to me, I’m able to relate to them much quicker. Or, I can even help or relate to people who have moved here themselves, from other cultures. I can help show them the ropes and stuff like that. I think that’s pretty cool.
Q: What is something you would want other people, who don’t have that cultural mix, to learn?
A: Asking questions isn’t a bad thing. I think there’s a fear that a lot of people have that like, ‘oh I shouldn’t ask that, they’re going to be offended…’ No. Ask me as many questions as you want, because I’d rather you ask and be aware than spread incorrect knowledge. I think that’s something that is just a social norm, like people are scared to ask questions and try to refrain. But I think that’s the wrong way to think about it. Ask the questions, get to know, rather than knowing the wrong things. Take the opportunity, especially in KU, there’s so many cool things. Like the World Fashion Show is going on today. There’s so many opportunities to get to know other cultures, you won’t get to do that unless you push yourself. I would say definitely grow that interest within yourself.
— Edited by Logan Schlossberg