Home Away from Home

Home Away from Home

When I moved to West Lafayette in August 2015, I did not expect to discover my new Home. Although I was floored by the hospitality of the local people, I yearned for something connected to India. I saw numerous Indian students in Purdue campus, but in the College of Education, I did not meet many.

A casual walk one day revealed a “little India” here. Just across the road from my apartment was the Indian cultural center. With my heart pounding within my rib cage, I entered the building which looked more like a huge shed. There was a little Hindu temple attached to a very big hall with a stage on one side. Bharatiya Temple & Cultural Center of Greater Lafayette or BTCCGL is the organization that runs all operations in the cultural center.

There were several flyers pinned neatly on a soft board which revealed that there existed a vibrant Indian community in this city. Few words exchanged with the lonely couple sitting there, threw more light on the center’s activities. On weekends, besides religious activities, the center offered Yoga, Sanskrit, Bal Vihar and Bagwad Gita classes. This was like any town or city in India. Little did I expect this here. I paid a visit on a Saturday and was amazed at the number of people attending the classes, both parents and little kids dressed in colorful Indian attire. If I was shocked by their numbers which was, say around 50, it was nothing compared to a bigger tremor that was coming.

Yummy dishes from India here in WL

 

On Diwali, an important festival of India, the hall attached to the temple was full to capacity. I walked into the hall, being drawn by the aroma of Indian food and was taken aback by the sheer numbers of people. There were nearly 400 people at any time and people kept leaving and coming continuously. I asked a friend, (yes, I made some friends) whether all the people were connected to Purdue. She replied that several Indians worked in companies like Caterpillar and in the many research laboratories in West Lafayette and Indianapolis. Parents worked in Indianapolis and preferred to have their homes in WL because of the good schools and safe environment. They did not mind commuting to Indy every day. This is a lot to say about any place.

In WL, all the Indian festivals were celebrated with great pomp and show. I enjoyed dressing in Indian attire, which I do rarely when in campus, and eating mouth-watering food from every state of India. There was always a grand spread of 7-8 dishes and soon I started looking forward to any celebration. I came to know that every festival was celebrated by the Indian community with great fanfare. Moreover, all these activities were organized by BTCCGL volunteers. Men and women and even children participated eagerly in organizing events, dancing, singing, putting up plays, maintaining a small library and what not.

Come November, I bought tickets to go to the Celebration of India event organized by the Indian Women’s Association or IWA. The Faith West community center was full. Now, were there a 1000 people or 1500? I never even thought in my wildest dreams that a little city like West Lafayette located in the United States, would have these many Indians. There were Purdue professors, Purdue students, their families, engineers from companies, doctors and people from every profession.

As is normal back home, there were numerous dance performances and bands belting out music from Indian movies of various languages. Performers traveled all the way from India to entertain the population here. Again, there was food, food, food……. from samosas to biriyani, all my fav food was there. My excitement was evident when I related my experiences to my mother that night. “Are there so many Indian families,” she wondered.

The story of the Indian community in WL will not be complete without me talking about the IWA. The small but efficient group of ladies organized several fun activities like summer picnics, Cricket matches and Holi celebrations. But, IWA was about something more. They used their funds to award a scholarship to a woman researcher at Purdue whose research focuses on women centric issues. They also collect money to donate towards rehabilitation efforts taking place in regions where nature unleashed its fury. In December 2015, my hometown, Chennai, was ravaged by floods and IWA immediately started arranging for help. Locally their services have been valuable to the Lafayette Food Bank, Asha Purdue Chapter, YWCA, and Lafayette Urban Ministry. They do not shirk from expressing solidarity with issues affecting the Indian community in the U.S. I know for a fact that public demonstrations were avoided even in the big cities regarding such issues.

Every year IWA publishes a magazine called Sanskriti which carries articles about global tourist attractions, critical issues, current events and also short stories. Sanskriti gives voice to many aspiring writers who live in WL. This year they published a beautiful cook book named, “Dash of Desi.” All the credit goes to the women behind IWA.

I was learning so many things about the WL Indian community and was baffled at the myriad activities they were involved in. Any big city in the U.S. houses a huge Indian population, I know, but for a small city like West Lafayette, it was amazing. The festivities, friendship and fun were reminiscent of the harmony among the Indian community. I am sure I’ll have a ton of stories to share when I visit home next summer after three long years. I can go on and on about my findings about this city, but let me keep some for my next blog post.

By the way, did I mention the word HOME, in my previous paragraph? Isn’t this like home? When I wrote that sentence, I got my title to these ramblings, “Home Away from Home.”

Video
ISS Students

Purdue ISS – We are Boilermakers

Purdue International students reciting Hail Purdue, the University’s fight song. Wherever you are from, you will always be a Boilermaker.

To Your Call Once More We Rally;

Alma Mater Hear Our Praise;

Where The Wabash Spreads Its Valley,

Filled With Joy Our Voices Raise.

From The Skies In Swelling Echoes

Come The Cheers That Tell The Tale

Of Your Victories And Your Heroes,

Hail Purdue! We Sing All Hail! Hail, Hail To Old Purdue!

All Hail To Our Old Gold And Black!

Hail, Hail To Old Purdue!

Our Friendship May She Never Lack.

Ever Grateful, Ever True,

Thus We Raise Our Song Anew

Of The Days We’ve Spent With You,

All Hail Our Own Purdue!

kangoma

Purdue World provides Mandela Fellows with social entrepreneurship skills

A group of 25 young African leaders learned about how to use social entrepreneurship to try to solve challenges their nations face during a six-week intensive executive-style leadership training program at Purdue University and Purdue Foundry.

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Kangoma Turay, a Mandela Fellow from Liberia, took part in a six-week intensive executive-style leadership training program at Purdue University. Turay was among 25 young African leaders who took part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program that included involvement in the Firestarter program in the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator. (Photo provided).

Ten social entrepreneurs and researchers from Purdue presented their new technology and business ideas to members of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative, which empowers African leaders between the ages of 25 and 35 through academic coursework, leadership training and networking opportunities, and embodies the U.S commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

“The Mandela Global Challenge was a fun way for the participants to apply what they had learned about starting a successful business and use those skills to evaluate new technologies being developed by Purdue,” said Ron Ellis, general manager of social innovation for Purdue World a social entrepreneurship program at the Purdue Foundry.

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. 

The technologies covered a wide range of issues, including low-cost rapid diagnostics to detect infectious disease, fortified corn to provide essential nutrients, community water systems and new therapies to treat malaria.

Leaders taking part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Purdue, which took place June 19-July 28, were given “Monopoly money” to invest in as many of the technologies as they wanted.  They could invest all the money in one technology or spread the money across a variety of technologies. The Mandela Fellows also scored the technologies on a variety of investment criteria. A new treatment for drug-resistant malaria presented by Panae Noomuna received the most investment among the student-presented technology.

 The faculty-presented technology winner was low-cost diagnostics for detection of infectious disease by Tamara Kinzer-Ursem, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue.  

“We want to thank everyone at Purdue who presented at the Global Challenge,” Ellis said, “It was a great learning experience for Mandela Fellows and an opportunity for feedback on research.”

The program also allowed Purdue to further its international mission. Officials at Purdue and the Purdue Research Foundation announced in August the launch of “Purdue World,” a global project to accelerate its social entrepreneurship programs that can contribute to the welfare and advancement of human societies throughout the world.

The Mandela Fellows took part in the Firestarter program in the Purdue Foundry. The goal was to work through ideation and market discovery to prove out their ideas and determine a path forward to commercialize their ideas. 

Kangoma Turay, a Mandela Fellow from Liberia, who developed a business plan to expand his computer training business in his home country, said the Firestarter program inspired him.

“It has helped me a lot, I mean, with the issue of planning, how to take care of people that are working with me and a whole lot of things,” he said.

Turay, who was born into a family of nine children whose parents were subsistence farmers, founded the Lofa Young Farmers Association to teach computer and agricultural skills to youth and underserved women in Voinjama, the provincial capital of Lofa County in northern Liberia.

He returned home with 10 laptop computers donated by a local business so he could expand his business. He said there remains a great need.

“We need people to partner with us so we can get more training to be able to help create more jobs for young people in our area,” he said.

The program at Purdue is a campus-wide collaboration, co-sponsored by Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and the colleges of Engineering and Agriculture, and with support from Krannert School of Management, Center for Global Food SecurityOffice of Engagement, and the Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships.

Here is a list of all the Mandela Fellows who took part in the program at Purdue, their home country and their goals. Click on their names to see videos of them:

Atinuke Bodunde Lebile, Nigeria, a farmer, works with rural communities to mentor young, out-of-school girls on various entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

Ben Wokorach, Uganda, an architect and social innovator, is seeking to increase accessibility to nutritious foods from small farmers by using solar-power refrigerated carts for distribution.

Daliwa Joseph Bainamndi, Cameroon, is production manager of a company that specializes in rice production, where he implements new production techniques in trying to make nutritious food more available.

Diabangouya Delia Carmen, Togo, quality control manager at a cooperative, is working to help cocoa farmers by producing top-quality chocolate at her business, part of her effort to improve enterprises to produce safe foods.

Dina Kikuli, Tanzania, a nutritionist and an agribusiness entrepreneur, is working to connect rice farmers, especially female rice farmers, to the market through her work with rice processing and distribution. She also wants to help women achieve their potential.

Efe Anthony Omudu, Nigeria, experience in animal farming and machine fabrication, is focused on helping farmers making their businesses more profitable by acquiring modern agricultural skills.

Gounou Bachirou Sariki Imorou, Benin, an accountant and an executive director of a nongovernmental agency involved with peacekeeping and local development, is working to reduce joblessness by creating jobs and job training programs.

Grace Ngosa Musonda, Zambia, started a farming and food processing business, is working to solve food insecurity, to improve nutrition for children and to reduce youth unemployment.

Issa Konate, Ivory Coast, general manager of a global agribusiness, is working on improving farmer training so farmers get better yield for their production and working on connecting them with exporters.

Jacob Paarechuga Anankware, Ghana, founder and CEO of a company that focuses on insect rearing for food and nutrition, is working to solve the problems of malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty.

Joel Reagan Siamito, Kenya, is a youth leader at an initiative where he focuses on solving youth unemployment by equipping people with business skills and trying to instill them with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Jona Ambuga Ambuga, Namibia, project manager for an investment company that specializes in fundraising for nongovernmental organizations and other business activities, is seeking to help poor families obtain affordable cars.

Kangoma Turay, Liberia, is the founder and CEO of a young farmers association that focuses on offering agricultural extension services to local farmers as he seeks to reduce youth unemployment.

Marc Nkaya Passongo Severin, Congo-Brazzaville, mechanical technician in the field of oil drilling and a computer programmer, wants to bring modern farming practices to Congo-Brazzaville, where farmers currently depend heavily on hand tools.

Zaina Banda, Malawi, is a chartered accountant and founder of an agricultural enterprise that aims at becoming a world-class entity that participates in the end-to-end agricultural value chain, creating jobs and wealth for the community.

Miora Harifetra Rajaonasitera, Madagascar, head of operations at a company that promotes agricultural products, wants to expand and empower the community of farmers to build sustainable supply chains.

Naomi Mohammed Said, Ethiopia, a chemical engineer, hopes to build an agro-industry enterprise that will allow the country to reduce imports and create more jobs.

Eluwole Olaniyi, Nigeria, an entrepreneur and agricultural extension officer with experience running farms as a social enterprise, is working to create jobs and seeking ways to support women and young people in agriculture.  

Sabriino Clair, Mauritius, is a project manager/food technologist, wants to increase poultry production and improve innovation in the industry.

Sebastien Roger Ayimambenwe, Gabon, founder and CEO of an agricultural company that focuses on creating and developing plantations of cocoa tree and corn for local and international markets, is trying to improve the quality of cocoa beans for farmers.  

Sylvie Sangwa, Rwanda, managing director of a business, is working to improve agricultural productivity, especially healthy foods, through sustainable agricultural practices.

Tanyada Maluwa, Botswana, is managing director and lead facilitator of an organization that formulates and implements workshops and programs to educate people on various aspects of nutrition, wellness, and food businesses. She is seeking to reduce Botswana’s reliance on horticulture imports.

Temwananani Phiri, Malawi, is an agricultural entrepreneur involved in general farming who is seeking to improve food security through practical farming and getting more young people involved in agriculture.

Japi Yemisrach Mesfin Bogale, Ethiopia, CEO of a startup, is trying to create a way for farmers displaced by urban sprawl to earn money through aquaponics, which combines growing vegetables and fish.

Zena Afework Demissie, Ethiopia, agriculture communication and extension expert, wants to create a community that provides farmers information on the best agricultural practices, market information and nutrition education.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue’s intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Tom Coyne765-588-1044, tjcoyne@prf.org  

Source: Ron Ellis, 765-588-5253, prellis@prf.org