Each month, Friends will profile an alum or faculty member who is working to bring about a world that ought to be. This month the School is featuring Ananya Modi '21.
While at Friends, I strived everyday to bring about a world that ought to be, only to realize that this work is much harder at college. First semester has flown by faster than I imagined. I have forged great friendships, engaged with new topics such as Puerto Rican debt and mahr in the Qur’an and enjoyed activities like goat yoga and calligraphy organized by the college social collective. I have learned from and loved the new experiences, from living in a triple to having meals in the dining hall and hosting karaoke night in a dorm.
One of my favorite aspects is the South Asian Political Action Committee. I am so grateful to work alongside students who not only share my identity but also my values and passion for politics. The first event I attended with the group was a farmers’ protest in Cambridge. We heard from activists who advocated for Indian farmers, a city council member and Cambridge’s South Asian mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. I feel it is important to organize around issues such as these which are not as prevalent in mainstream progressive American politics. A few weeks later, all of us erupted in cheers when one of the members read aloud a news notification that the Indian government repealed three farmer laws! One of our current projects is working to have caste added to our university’s anti-discrimination policy. We have faced some challenges appealing to the administration and proving cases of caste discrimination on campus, since it is not well-known in the United States inspite of the prevalence of discrimination. Our group also reached out to other universities which include caste as a protected category and South Asian professors who have willingly offered their support and guidance for this initiative. I hope to see more movement on this project after Thanksgiving Break.
Last week, my friend and I hosted an event on South Asian local government with IL-51 candidate Nabeela Syed and a representative from the organization They See Blue, which works to flip districts in favor of Democrats. In our recent club meeting, everyone shared reflections and takeaways from the event. When one of the members highlighted a problematic statement made by one of our panelists, our entire group engaged in an honest discussion surrounding solidarity and the South Asian electorate. I appreciate how the conversation reinforced our own beliefs and political stances. Aside from political events, we have had bondings like a potluck for Diwali.
I always loved the sense of community and belonging I felt while at Friends and it has been so wonderful to find a similar community of friends, organizers and mentors who support me and help me thrive within a much larger university.