Nepalese students give ULM a taste of home

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Nepalese students give ULM a taste of home

Siddharth GAULEE

Siddharth GAULEE

Siddharth GAULEE

Olivia Barfield, [email protected]

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When Shivam Kharga first came to ULM, he had no idea it would be so culturally diverse.

Kharga, a computer science sophomore from Nepal, expected there to be international students from different countries, but he didn’t expect for all their cultures to be recognized.

“Here we have a chance to see the world within the university, to enjoy the diverse cultures, the many languages, the many dance moves and to enjoy the many flavors of the world here in one place,” Kharga said.

Part of this diversity is the strong Nepalese community found at ULM.

About 150 Nepalese students are a part of the Nepalese Student Association (NSA), which hosts Nepali Night and of which Kharga is the president of.

Nepali Night is an annual opportunity for Nepalese students to showcase their culture to whomever chooses to attend their night of entertainment, knowledge and food.

This year, more people attended Nepali Night than ever before. Attendance was at about 320 people, which is up about 70 more attendees from last year. It was the sixth Nepali Night hosted at ULM.

According to Kharga, Nepali Night isn’t just for flaunting the Nepali culture. It’s also a chance for Nepalese students to feel at home.

“It makes me happy to see our foreign friends dressed in Nepalese costume, dancing to a Nepali song, having Nepali food and enjoying every bit of it,” Kharga said.

At Nepali Night, several Nepalese students performed both traditional and contemporary Nepali songs and dances. Some even collided cultures by singing American songs like Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit.”

Nepali trivia gave the audience a chance to learn a little more about the Himalayan country.

A full Nepali meal, complete with goat curry and dishes like alu achaar and matar paneer, was served to give attendees a true taste of the country.

Kharga said that, more than anything, the event was the NSA’s way of saying “thank you” to the ULM community.

“At ULM, everyone is like one big family,” he said, “and cultural events like Nepali Night help strengthen that sense of community.

It helps to bond strong relationships and establish deeper connections with each other,” Kharga said.

At this year’s Nepali Night, a special website launch made its way into the program.

Shunil Jamkatel, a computer science major and one of NSA’s webmasters, spoke to the crowd about why he had the idea to develop a new website specifically for Nepalese students.

The website is meant to help spread the word about ULM in Nepal and to help students there apply. According to Jamkatel, the college application process is very different in Nepal, and he himself was confused when first applying to ULM. He said this site should help others avoid that situation.

“We want to let Nepalese students who are applying for admission at ULM know that our campus has a welcoming Nepalese community which…will help guide them in their academic journey here in the United States,” he said.

Jamkatel also said he wants help here in the U.S. to be accessible to students back in Nepal, so the new page features NSA board members that can be contacted with questions.

The goal is to make new students feel more comfortable.

Jamkatel said that through both the new website and the continuance of events like Nepali Night, he and the rest of the NSA want to showcase that there is an active Nepali community here, even though these students are thousands of miles away from home.