This past week I was privileged to share an evening with many of those from our South Asian community at SFU’s Diwali Gala. The annual event, which draws over 300 community members, became a tradition long before my arrival at SFU’s Surrey campus three years ago and it’s impressive that so many have been coming for all or most of its nine-year history. The event is not only a celebration, but a fundraiser supporting student mobility initiatives in India.
We gather for a fine traditional meal and entertainment, this year featuring the spirited drums of the South Asia Arts Society. Together we are lifted by the rich cultural pride that is the root of our celebration.
This year we also acknowledged the decade of service that our SFU-India Advisory council has so generously given. The council was the first of its kind to be established in Canada, and its input and direction have led to numerous community partnerships and opportunities.
We also recognized the generous contribution of Hari and Madhu Varshney, who have given SFU $500,000 to establish a program that will see noted Indian scholars come to SFU.
And while we celebrate, it’s also interesting to note how SFU’s relationship with India continues to grow. The Indian scholars program will build on the foundation laid by SFU and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which has already brought two prominent scholars to the University. SFU continues to grow its research relationships in clean technology (through its partnership with Indian Oil Company, for example) and its Innovates Strategy (partnering with Ryerson University and the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute on the incubator Zone Startups India). Meanwhile students from India now make up the fastest growing segment of international students coming to SFU. All of this is a great testament to SFU’s mandate as Canada’s engaged University, indeed, engaging the world.
As Diwali draws closer (October 30) I wish all a very happy festival of lights and look forward to celebrating SFU’s 10thanniversary Diwali Gala next year. My thanks to those who had the foresight to create this wonderful annual community celebration, and to those who come each year to help us celebrate.