Celebrate Indo-American Heritage Day


HOUSTON: The Foundation for India Studies (FIS) in partnership with the Houston Public Library (HPL) and Houston Community College (HCC) invites the community to an exciting celebration for Indo-American Heritage Day, Our Roots, Our voices, Our Heritage, Our Contributions.  The Indo-American Heritage Day celebration will take place on Saturday, March 26, from 1 PM to 4 PM in the Library’s historic Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney, 77002.

This event is free and open to the public. Please email your RSVP to foundationforindiastudies@gmail.com. This year’s Indo-American Heritage Day celebration will highlight the Indo-American Oral History Project with the completion of 50 video interviews. This legacy project has been achieved in partnership with HPL and HCC. The event will also celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Foundation for India Studies.

For event details, please contact Krishna Vavilala at 713-795-5169 or Dr. Ponnada Narayana at 281-804-4912. For sponsorship information, please visit: www.foundationforindiastudies.org. Free parking will be available for the Indo-American Heritage Day celebration at the Central Library’s underground parking garage, entrance ramp is located on the Lamar St. side of the building. The Central Library is located at 500 McKinney St., 77002. Free parking is also available in the streets.

FIS Founder and Chairman Krishna Vavilala said, “The preservation and promulgation of a community’s history are important aspects of a civilization. Through a decade long service to the community, the Foundation for India Studies (FIS) has accomplished a remarkable series of projects to enrich the understanding of India’s contributions to the world as well as to the understanding of the role of the Indo-American community in Houston that’s a part of the city’s multicultural tapestry.”

The Indo-American Heritage Day celebration will include distinguished speakers:
•Key Note Speaker: Dr. Stephen Klineberg, “The Changing Face of Houston” Founding Director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research
•Parvathaneni Harish, Indian Consul General in Houston
•Sheila Jackson Lee, U.S. Congresswoman
•Al Green, U.S. Congressman
•Dr. Jimmy Adams, Houston Community College (HCC) Director of Center for Excellence in Media Arts and Technology
•Aric Nitzberg, Chair of the Center for Excellence, Media Arts and Technology

About the Indo-American Oral History Project
The Houston Indo-American Oral History Project is an initiative of the Foundation for India Studies (FIS), which engages the Indo-American community living in Houston to record their life stories and experiences. Interviewees are from the first generation of Indian immigrants that have lived in Houston for more than 25 years.

Even though Indo-Americans make up a small percent of Houston’s population they have made significant contributions to Houston’s economy and quality of life through professional, scientific, technical, religious, artistic, and political involvement.

“The project aims to video record and preserve the histories of the first generation Indian immigrants who migrated from various parts of India and settled in Houston. Their stories are a testament to the significant contributions they have made to Houston’s economy and quality of life. The project will provide a wealth of primary material to historian, sociologist, researchers, educationist, and students. The Oral History Project will also enable our future Indo-American generations to trace back to their roots in India,” said FIS Founding Chairman Krishna Vavilala.

The Indo-American Oral History collection is now archived at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center administered by the Houston Public Library.

FIS Celebrates Ten Years of Contributions to the City of Houston
In the past ten years, FIS has successfully initiated the establishment of India Studies at the University of Houston. In 2015, FIS received the Martin Luther King Grand Marshal Award from Charles Stamps, CEO of the MLK Grande Parade, the organization’s highest award for demonstrating the doctrines and principles of Gandhi and King through their daily activities and life styles. In 2011, FIS launched its signature project called “The Indo-American Oral History Project” to collect and archive the life stories of the first generation immigrants from India. This project which was inaugurated by Mayor Annise Parker and has now completed 50 interviews in partnership with the Houston Public Library and the Houston Community College.

FIS has conducted its Distinguished Lecture Series.  These lectures cover a wide range of topics that emphasize the diversity in India to foster the creation of distinct cultural connections. Through these lectures FIS provides a connection to Houston with some of India’s most productive minds.  Some of the past prominent speakers included: Padma Vibhushan, Prof George Sudarshan, a nominee for Physics Nobel prize;  Indian Ambassador to UN TP Sreenivasan; Indian Consul General S.M. Gavai; Houston Mayor Bill White; India’s former Union Law Minister and Bar Council Chairman Ram Jethmalani; former Senior Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University of Houston John Antel; University of Houston Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Studies Jerald W. Strickland; University of Houston Dean of College of Liberal Arts  Dr. John Roberts; Delhi University Professor Bharat Gupt; and Indian Painter OM Soorya.

FIS has brought together the Indian and American universities exchange program for students and faculty by facilitating Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the universities. An example of such an endeavor was the successful MOU signed between the Central University of Hyderabad and the University of Houston.