Student Post: What Henna and Hamsas Have in Common

DSC_0033.jpg

Julia Turan is a rising senior at Stanford University studying biology. She is also the Outreach Chair for the Stanford Israel Alliance. I have been involved with Israel programming ever since I stepped foot onto Stanford’s campus. However, it wasn't until this past weekend that I finally understood the purpose of it all. On Friday, May 3, Stanford Israel Alliance joined Sanskriti, the undergraduate South-Asian group, for a mixer. I worked with students from Sanskriti, including Monica Dey, Aanchal Ramani and Amrita Rao to coordinate all the logistics, plan for months in advance, and anxiously await the event.

This anxiety was heightened when a student published an article in a campus publication denouncing the event and the students who would participate in it. In the post, he condemned everything from the supposed political implications of the event to the flier design. Despite this disturbance, when the day of the event rolled around at 3 p.m. sharp, Monica and I stood on the field and watched as old and new faces trickled in, sampling samosas and falafel, getting Henna, and painting Hamsas (a symbol common to both Judaism and Hinduism). When we had accumulated enough people, we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and got to know each other.

Following the event, Amrita decided to write her own article about the mixer. In it she beautifully wrote: “The SIA-Sanskriti mixer created new friendships across the two organizations, friendships that will further the discovery of abundant similarities between the two countries, religions and cultures, giving us the chance to support each other and learn from each other’s past successes and successes to come."

So, at the end of the event everyone left a little tanner, having made some few friends, and with a new understanding of each other's cultures and ultimately - a strengthened relationship between the two groups.