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  November 25, 2002

Student Offers Insights Into
Another Country, Culture
By Sarah Breckenridge

The haunting notes of Ravi Shankar's sitar were playing, and the scent of coconut flavored Indian sweets filled the air, as Sanbrita Ghosh prepared her colorful PowerPoint presentation. She was wearing a brilliant gold salwar kameez - a tunic top and long pants worn in the Indian province of West Bengal - adorned with intricate snake-like embroidery around the neck and sleeves.

Ghosh, who lived in West Bengal for seven years as a child, offered students a glimpse of life in India last month at the Honors House.

Her presentation was one of a series of lectures by students designed to give the UConn community insight into the diversity they experienced as a result of traveling or living outside America.

"The aim of this series is to go beyond exposure to various cultures," says Trevor Tebbs, assistant director of the honors program, who conceived of the series. "We hope to provide opportunities for our students to dig a little deeper and examine their own world from the perspective of those who have traveled or lived in parts of the globe that are distinctly different from our own."

Ghosh, a first-semester physiology and neurobiology major, encouraged her audience to embrace the colorful culture of India.

She outlined the dos and don'ts of the Holi festival, also known as the "Festival of Colors", that celebrates the ultimate triumph of good over evil. All over India, on the night of the full moon in early March, adults dance around a blazing fire while children throw rainbow-colored powders on one another. "Never go outside with your good clothes on during the festival," she quipped.

Ghosh also showed students a vivid dance sequence to the song Dhol Baje from the Indian movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, in which men and women clad in brilliant hues danced circles around each other on a flame-colored floor. Ghosh said Indian dances are more vivid and exiting than those in America.

Toward the end of her presentation, Gosh talked about yoga, a common Hindu practice that seeks to unify the atma, individual spirit, and paramatma, supreme spirit. She said many people in India practice yoga to quiet the mind in favor of the voice of the soul.

Tebbs hopes that presentations like Ghosh's will encourage members of the University community to value diversity and traveling abroad. "When you travel," he says, "you cannot look at the world the same way."