South Asian Student Association blossoms as new W&L club


Udassi explains the impacts of the floods in Pakistan to students at the vigil. Photo by Adelaide Loving, ‘25

Adelaide Loving, Staff Writer

The South Asian Student Association (SASA) started as an informal community of international and domestic students. Now it’s Washington and Lee’s newest cultural club.

“There’s beauty in learning about what makes people different,” said SASA President Avani Kashyap, ‘25. “Now we have a space specifically for us, where we can share and celebrate South Asian cultures… and where our community can continue to grow.” 

Before SASA, the Student Association for International Learning (SAIL) hosted Hindu holiday events like Diwali and Holi. While well done, these events lacked the level of involvement some South Asian students wanted to have when honoring special holidays.

Now an official and autonomous club, SASA plans to host their own events. In doing so, they are excited to bring their individual cultural experiences to the celebration of South Asian holidays on campus.

“There’s so much nuance amongst the different South Asian cultures,” said Kashyap. 

The club plans to host other events, such as dance and movie nights, to showcase the vivid and unique cultures within South Asia. 

SASA’s first public event, however, was more somber. On Sept. 21, SASA partnered with the university’s Amnesty International to host a vigil for the lives and livelihoods lost to the devastating floods in Pakistan. Together, SASA and Amnesty raised donations for the Al-Khidmat Foundation Pakistan. 

Anmol Udassi, ‘25, who is an international student from Karachi, Pakistan, shared a presentation at the vigil to shed light on the true impact of the floods at a local and global level. According to Udassi, the floods have not only caused numerous deaths but also damage to Pakistani infrastructure and agricultural industry. 

Udassi, along with Professor Afshad Irani, explained that even though Pakistan is one of the lowest contributors to global emissions, it is currently one of the countries most devastated by climate change.  

SASA is proud to host serious events like this, but they are also eager to bring the joy of cultural exchange and celebration to Washington and Lee. 

“When you stay in one place for too long, it limits your perspective,” Udassi said. “That’s the value of international learning…these issues like climate change are global.” 

It is part of SASA’s mission to go beyond cultural celebrations and to support fellow students in conversations on issues like these.

Now one of multiple cultural clubs on campus, SASA is one piece in the puzzle of starting cultural conversations and furthering Washington and Lee’s mission to prepare students for citizenship in a global and diverse society.

SASA’s doors are open to all South Asian students and any member of the community who wishes to learn more about South Asian cultures.