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The Junoon concert connects students through music and dance

The Indian Students' Association concert featured multicultural dancing and a cappella


K-Pop Dance Evolution (KoDE) performs at Junoon, a concert held by the Indian Students' Association (ISA) at SDFC Fields on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Tempe.

The Indian Students' Association brought students across the ASU campus together to celebrate Indian culture and enjoy music and dancing at the Junoon concert on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The concert, which took place on the Student Recreation Complex Fields in Tempe, featured Penn Masala, a South Asian-Western fusion a cappella group that boasts a performance at the White House and an appearance in the movie Pitch Perfect 2. Two ASU dance groups performed: Andaaz, a competitive Bollywood fusion dance team, and KoDe, a K-pop dance club. 

READ MORE: Global Rhythms: Exploring ASU's Dance Scene

According to ISA president Ishita Patel, a junior studying business data analytics, there were nearly 3,000 students registered to attend by the afternoon before the event. Patel works with her organization to serve a large portion of ASU's community with ties to India, including ASU's approximately 6,400 Indian international students.

"As an international (student), it is very hard to live in a new country and to move to the U.S.,'' Patel said. 

After emigrating from India with her family, she went to high school in the U.S. Before attending ASU, she already knew about ISA's work. She saw it as an opportunity to combine her interest in helping other Indian students with her love for event planning. 

"When I first came to ASU, I felt a bit homesick and also a bit lost," said Smita Maruti Chaudhari, a graduate student studying information technology. She found kindness, community and resources through ISA and joined the organization as ISA's talent management officer.

ISA puts on cultural events throughout the year, one of their biggest being an annual Holi celebration in the spring, and hosts networking and professional development events. Their work reaches across degree programs and campuses. 

For Junoon, students came from other campuses, prompting ISA to organize shuttle transport for Polytechnic students. Other students came from much closer.

Melanie Ulrich, business law freshman who had never heard of ISA, saw the event get set up near her dorm. She asked about the event and decided to go with her friend to "hear some good music and experience new culture."

The organization recognizes how the arts play an important role in the identity of the Indian community by working to "provide students a platform to express their creative side, especially on the performing arts front," according to their Sun Devil Sync bio. 

@andaaz_asu Andaaz x Jannat impromptu choreo exchange. We love yall 🫶🏽 #ddn #legends #houstonjannat #asuandaaz #huston #tempe ♬ original sound - Andaaz

"We are looking forward to dancing at this concert, to all the Indian songs," said Ananya Arora, a computer science sophomore, before the event. She has attended many of ISA's events at ASU. 

"We are international students who don’t have a family over here, so it’s very important for us to connect to people of our country, religion and stuff like that," said Arora's friend Nishtha Kukreja, a sophomore studying computer science cybersecurity. 

"(ISA) is not related to the Indian students only," Chaudhari said. "We will be having everyone from every culture and all kinds of students involved in the event." 

She said that ISA hopes to help every student, graduate or undergraduate, Indian or just looking for international student resources, at ASU. 

Patel is looking forward to a year full of events with ISA. 

"Indian Students’ Association is like a home away from India," she said. 

Edited by Claire van Doren, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

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