If you don’t know Armana Islam, you probably don’t go here. She’s that universal.
The spunky junior is not only my friend and coworker at The Daily Campus, but a passionate representative of the club she helps run. Bangladeshi Student Association (BSA), of which Islam is president, put on their “Welcome Back Dawaat” in the Rome Ballroom, celebrating the start of the new school year and the first of many exciting events put on by the club.
The spacious Rome Ballroom was speckled with Bengali flair. The edges of the room were lined with tables, each adorned with a glass filled with marbles and fall foliage. There was saree draping, lungi tying and even a henna booth if you wanted to get inked up for the first week of autumn.
The packed night began with a Dining Service-provided spread of Bengali delicacies, ranging from chana masala to tandoori spiced chicken breast; as soon as “food’s ready” was shouted, lines quickly formed at the back of the room.
After a lovely video, the board of the club introduced themselves to the now seated and sated crowd, and began a group dance. And with that, the festivities began. Riaz, a group of four musical friends, performed some Bollywood songs for the club. Surya, Connecticut’s premier competitive fusion dance team, performed a medley of Bhangra-esque contemporary performances. Lastly, the de facto headliner of the event Muza came to the stage. Hailing all the way from New York City, Muza performed a number of his songs for the now standing and dancing crowd, including an unreleased single. Although, it was a song no one in the room knew, I’m confident we will soon. The night ended with three rousing games of musical chairs, where competitive tension turned to running, then to laughter, as the night came to a close.
“I joined BSA my freshman year,” Islam told me as the festivities began winding down. “I grew up in Shelton, where there weren’t a lot of Bengali people around. Coming to UConn, I really wanted to tap into my own culture. Some of my fondest memories of growing up Bengali include family house parties that we go to almost every weekend. So, the reason that we held this event today, and the reason we had all the performances and games and everything was to tap into the diverse array of fun activities that happen at Bengali house parties, or dawaats.”
“This event was the first event of the semester, and I’m so glad it went so well,” Amrin Choudhury, the club’s vice president, said. “We had all different types of students, including those who came from regional campuses, and the fact they knew about BSA and their enthusiasm for this event was so helpful.”
Every club at UConn is a family and the BSA might be the tightest-knit one in Storrs. Everyone in the mid-sized club seems to know each other like a sibling, and I’ve never felt so welcome covering a club event. Last night’s Dawaat was by Bengalis, but was for everyone in our community who wanted to throw down with them.
The BSA meets biweekly, switching between Mondays and Wednesdays. Their next meeting is two Wednesdays from now, on Oct. 2. Alternatively, you can find them on Facebook at “UConn Bangladeshi Student Association” or “uconn_bsa” on Instagram.
Photos provided by UConn Bangladeshi Student Association (BSA)
Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.