The Hindu calendar Bikram Sambat is about 57 years ahead of the Gregorian Calendar used by most of the rest of the world. Nepal, one of the South Asian countries that follows it, celebrated Nepali New Year on Friday, April 14 to ring in 2080.
Ramapo’s International Students Organization (ISO) threw a party that day both to bring Nepalese culture to campus and to honor the graduating seniors. “Basanta: The Season of Celebration” lived up to its name with a buffet of Indian cuisine, upbeat Bollywood and Nepalese music and an array of raffle prizes.
Senior Shreehar Joshi joined the ISO during his freshman year. Although the pandemic limited the number of events he got to experience in-person, Joshi is grateful for all of his time as a member.
“It has created a community where international students like me can hang out and share their issues. Seniors can guide us, we can guide our juniors,” he said.
Joshi offered advice for the rising seniors who will take up the torch next semester. “Keep on continuing this trend of organizing events. It’s really helpful for international students. Work hard, have fun, that’s it.”
ISO President Niki Bajracharya took the microphone and shared kind words about each senior before giving them gifts. “Seniors are such an important resource for us as international students,” she said.
Faculty advisor Ruma Sen also briefly spoke. “We’re happy you guys are here, and the food is so good,” she said. Her words rang true considering the number of people who went up for second helpings of naan bread and chicken masala.
Bajracharya used the event as an opportunity to announce the members of next semester’s ISO e-board. Incoming Treasurer Tina Nosrati, Cultural Program Coordinator Pranish Khanal, Public Relations Chair Ritika Dawadi, Secretary Sumit Shiwakoti, Vice President Shubhashree Shahi and President Prashant Shah all expressed eagerness to continue the tradition of “Basanta” and add to the event repertoire.
“We’re planning on expanding the events. We’re planning on adding two more… We have an idea for a cultural traditional dress expo and a cultural food expo,” Shiwakoti said.
Many of the current members are from Nepal, but the ISO is open to everyone. Next year, the e-board hopes to increase participation from other sections of the Ramapo community.
“We’re trying to get a lot of other cultures and events for other cultures, not just the international students we have at Ramapo right now,” Shahi said. “Students who are from this country might have family members from other places. It would be nice to collaborate with other clubs and organizations to make events more diverse.”
Although Bajracharya chose not to continue serving on the e-board next semester to prioritize her academic commitments, she plans to stay involved with the ISO.
“I’ve been very involved since I got here,” she said. “I’m very close with the [incoming] e-board right now… I’ll always be there as a resource if they want anything.”
Regardless of who is officially in charge, the ISO will continue to thrive due to its strong community. Shiwakoti said, “Usually as international students we are spread apart, we have our own majors and don’t really get to hang out together. Events like these give us the time and space to come together and stay as a family.”
Featured photo by Danielle Bongiovanni