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Students and Young Adults from Across North America and the Caribbean attend Hindu Students Council’s Spring 2022 Chapter Leadership Summit

Hindu Students Council (HSC) hosted its annual Spring Leadership Summit virtually on January 15-16, 2021. Over 120 high school students, college students, recent graduates, alumni and Hindu chaplains from the United States, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago registered for the two day summit.

“This year’s Spring Leadership Summit has been truly memorable in allowing for so many of our chapters and community members to come together to share and learn more about our Hindu identity, build meaningful relationships, and plan for an impactful semester ahead. It brings me great pride and joy to be amongst such passionate student leaders dedicated to the cause of uplifting the Hindu community and carrying forward Hindu dharma and heritage.” remarked Naisargi Jaiswal, recently appointed General Secretary of Hindu Students Council and graduate student at Texas State University.

The theme for this year’s Spring Summit was Aikyam Balam Samaajasya, a Sanskrit shloka that means “Unity is the Strength of Society.” This theme was selected in light of the challenges and isolation that students have faced throughout the pandemic.

“This summit felt like a breath of fresh air because I was able to connect with so many peers all across North America and internationally on things that I grew up with, and I felt like I had found my people. I came out feeling so connected with everyone and passionate to do more work towards society. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam [a Sanskrit shloka that means “the entire world is one family”],” remarked Tanupa Thaker, who currently serves as the President of HSC’s recently launched San Jose State University Chapter.

The chief guest speaker for the event was Swami Sarveshananda who is currently serving as the National Director of Chinmaya Mission Yuva Kendra (CHYK) West. Swamiji spoke about unity and decolonization in the Hindu community. Perhaps the most admirable and important point that he touched upon was the necessity of encouraging Hindu youth to ask questions and to seek the truth for themselves, for it is only through true practice of dharma that the next generation of Hindus will be confident and rooted.

The summit included a variety of events such as motivational speeches, icebreakers, leadership building exercises, chapter development workshops, student testimonials and discussion groups. Students relaxed during spirited games of Jeopardy, brainstormed various ways to organize engaging chapter meetings and events, and listened to fellow students’ experiences with Hinduphobia. Thoughtful discourse about the roadblocks that Hindu students faced on campus proved to be the highlight of the summit, for it allowed students to learn from one another, feel heard in their struggles, and come away from the summit feeling supported and confident.

“The summit helped me connect with so many like-minded people I never knew existed. It was great to see so much energy and enthusiasm and hear so many different, yet similar stories. The theme ‘Aikyam Balam Samaajasya’ sums up the weekend for me. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for all of us,” remarked Kavya Gayatri Achyutuni who is a recent graduate of UC Davis, a current student pharmacist at UC San Francisco, and serves on HSC’s Chapter Relations team.

Many students attending the summit found the event to be an incredibly empowering and validating experience. For many Hindu students who feel unsupported on their campuses, it was a much-needed reminder that they are not alone when they stand together as a diverse, colorful community.

Founded in 1990, Hindu Students Council is North America’s largest pan-Hindu youth organization. HSC is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing a safe space for Hindus on campuses all over, and is a platform for young Hindu leaders to learn, grow and engage in advocacy, empowerment and seva. Over 200,000 students of various backgrounds have attended HSC’s programs since its founding.

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