Night of dance raises funds to aid women’s health care


Jenna Reeves/Iowa State Daily

The Indian Student Association hosted “Teach Me How to Desi” on Oct. 17 in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

Carolina Colon

There has been an increase in the number of crimes against women in India in recent years. For the first time in Iowa State University history, the Indian Student Association created an event in order to raise money for those women.

The first annual “Teach Me How to Desi” night was Friday, Oct. 17, where five ISU student dance groups taught other students segments of Bollywood and Hollywood style dances.

Kwisha Patel, senior in marketing and international business, said what the event was all about. 

“We raise money for the Smile Foundation, which is a big Indian foundation that supports those women who have been raped or sexually assaulted,” Patel said.

The Smile Foundation has about 10 different outreach programs, including the Girl, Child and Women Empowerment section. 

Health care for women in India can be challenging to find, according to the Smile Foundation’s website. The foundation, in support with Proctor & Gamble, created a program called Swabhiman aimed at ensuring improved health for women. The foundation has a focus on reproductive health and menstrual hygiene through training and other information, education and communication tools, the website said.

Latif Masud, senior in electrical engineering, shared the meaning of Desi.

“Desi means ‘one from our country.’ This is the first year we celebrated this event and we hope to continue having it,” Masud said. 

The Great Hall was packed with people from India and guests with other ethnic backgrounds as well to learn about the cause and the dances. 

Each dance group performed for about 30 seconds. After the performance, the groups taught the crowd the dance moves. The dance clubs included Bhangra, Raas, Bollywood Dance Club, Motion Sickness and Rahmanism.

When taking a break, a green screen photo booth was available for students to capture the night’s memories.

In the entrance, members of the Indian Student Association could enter for free. Nonmembers could buy membership for $22, which included entrance to Teach Me How to Desi and other Indian Student Association events, including Dandiya Night, Diwali Night and Desi Night Plus. All event proceeds go toward the Smile Foundation.

Students received a ribbon that glowed in the dark, which represented rape victims and demonstrated women empowerment.

Deepanshi Jain, graduate student in civil, construction and environmental engineering, said how the Indian Student Association tried to attract guests to the event.

“Dancing captures their attention,” Jain said. “Having fun, but for a noble cause, was the goal of this event.”

The Indian Student Association is the second largest international student organization on campus. One third of the members are non-Indians, according to the club’s website. 

The club’s two main missions are to educate others about India, including the country’s culture, food, dance and people, and to preserve the Indian traditions.

To achieve these goals, the club holds Indian festivals throughout the year, such as Holi, Diwali and Navaratri nights and now the club’s newest event, Teach Me How to Desi. 

About 160 people attended the Teach Me How to Desi and raised $385 for Indian charities. The club also donates a percentage of membership collections to the charities at the end of the academic year.