Indo-American Leadership Forum holds its third gathering with New England Indian-American community leaders
More than 25 New England community leaders came together to be a part of the 3rd annual meeting of the Indo-American Leadership Forum. The Indo American Leadership Forum is a platform for community organizations to network with each other and come together for a common cause – strengthening the Indian community and its unified representation in the New England civic engagement arena. It was refreshing to have an in-person meeting this year, with CDC guidelines being followed. While the Indo American Leadership Forum is not an organization, it is coordinated by volunteers of different organizations that come together for uniting the Indian community in the region. The venue was Priya Restaurant, Lowell and the event were kicked off with an Introduction and then a moderated session by Smt Suman Garhwal, a volunteer with HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh). The open discussion was about the challenges faced by the Indian American community when working in the society, presenting the Indian diaspora and its diversities while trying to make an impact with its commitment to service.
The conversation then flowed into a topic very relevant and a challenge for all organizations, engaging the youth to “own and carry forward” the Indic culture and its representation in the society. It was quite an interesting discussion where a few organizations spoke about the steps they are taking to engage the youth, how the innovative ideas from the next generation can be incorporated and leading many initiatives. Hindu Yuva was a key contributor in the segment who spoke about what it has been doing in creating a presence and bringing the next generation together at University campuses across North America. There were discussions around initiatives such as programs organized by the youth for the youth with their own perspectives and topics closer to their heart. While the engagement and discussion were quite productive and there was more to discuss, it was time to Segway into the next segment.
Our guest speaker, Dr. Sepideh Hariri, Program Manager at the Sadguru Center for a Conscious Planet at the Harvard Medical School engaged the audience with the commendable work done in the multimodal research on yoga and meditation practices for faster well-being and enhancing consciousness, cognition and compassion. She spoke about specific research areas and its findings which generated a lot of interest and willingness for participation by the audience.
Dr. Yogesh Rathi, a Professor at the Harvard Medical School, and a volunteer with the Dharma Center of America and Communications Director of HSS, for the North-East region, moderated the last segment of the forum and discussed the Sewa Diwali project, an initiative to serve the community by means of a food drive in the spirit of Diwali celebrations. Shri Vikas Aher, another volunteer with HSS introduced Dr Sai Patil, Executive Director of Communication, HSS, for the North-East region. She spoke about how the Sewa Diwali project has been carried out with great success in other states with the collaboration of regional Indian American community leaders and the impact it has made to the society during the pandemic. She motivated everyone to come together for a single purpose of serving the society with an effort that once executed would demonstrate the Indian American community as a true partner in developing and supporting the society. The enthusiasm in all the attendees to participate in such an initiative was contagious and it was agreed that the forum would be in regular communication and kick off a service project in early Q4, 2021.
The evening concluded with a note of thanks from Shri Nilesh Agrawal, an executive committee member with Dharma Center of America who ensured that all participating organizations and every volunteer that had worked hard to put together the meet felt appreciated. A special thank you to all the volunteers - Shri Vikas Deshpande, Shri Vijay Patil, Smt Dipti Nagraj and Shri Bharath Tabathi who helped in organizing this meet. A hearty and delicious vegetarian dinner at the end of the event gave more opportunity to continue the enlightening discussions during the moderated sessions.
A full list of attendees’ organizations for the meet were -
Ø Bengalees of New England
Ø Bhakti Center of Lexington
Ø Chinmaya Mission
Ø Dharma Center of America
Ø Ekal Vidyalaya
Ø Federation of Indian Associations
Ø Friends of Indian Senior Citizen Organization (FISCO)
Ø Gujarati Association of New England (Gurjar)
Ø Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS)
Ø Hindu Yuva
Ø Indian Americans for Burlington
Ø Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America
Ø Nataraja Yoga
Ø New England Marathi Mandal
Ø Noopur Dance Academy
Ø Isha foundation
Ø Saheli Boston
Ø Samskrita Bharati
Ø Satsang Center (Woburn)
Ø Sewa International
Ø Tamil Makkal Mandram (TMM)
Ø Telugu Association of Greater Boston (TAGB)
Ø We Care Charity