The Consulate General of India in New York in cooperation with GOPIO Manhattan organized the ‘Meet and Greet Students from India’ studying in the Northeast to connect them to the community and providing mentoring opportunities as well as to raise awareness of Consular services to students from the Consulate. Students from many universities in the New York area
including Columbia, NYU, Tandon School of Engineering, Tauro, Pace, New York Institute of Technology, Rutgers, Univ. of Penn. and as far as Boston including Harvard and Babson participated in person and via Facebook Live.
The program started with a welcome by Deputy Consul General of Indian Dr. Varun Jeph, who emphasized the unique and strong relationship between India and the United States, highlighting
it as a comprehensive strategic partnership. He stressed the significance of the knowledge and education aspect, innovation, research engagement, and the role of international students in this
partnership. Dr. Jeph invited, Consulate General of India at New York, honorable Consul General Mr. Randhir Jaiswal addressed the gathering.
CG Jaiswal said, “In the United States, the concept of a knowledge partnership is extensive, and while there are challenges, there’s a lot of positivity coming from India, such as the success of
Chandrayaan and the historic visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Washington, resulting in new partnerships in technology and knowledge exchange. There’s a strong focus on supporting the Indian student community in the U.S. The speaker expressed well wishes for students studying and working in the U.S. and celebrating Diwali. He emphasized that the knowledge partnership
extends beyond the student community.”
Jaiswal added, “Over the past 20 years, three notable educational projects, including the Indian School of Business, Ashoka University in Haryana, and the upcoming “Passion” project, have emerged. The name “Passion” symbolizes the source from which knowledge flows. The speaker highlighted the growing number of Indian students studying abroad, contributing to India’s demographic dividend, and impacting global socio-economic and technological landscapes. The speaker welcomed the audience, engaged in conversation, and expressed gratitude for their presence.”
Following that, host of the evening Ms. Bhavya Gupta, Founder ACE Consultants and Secretary at GOPIO Manhattan, expressed pride in the large number of Indian students in the U.S. and hoped that the panel discussion would provide valuable insights to help these students adapt and succeed in the academic, social, and cultural aspects of American life. She mentioned the idea of the event is not only to come together and gain from the experiences and learnings of the accomplished panel, but also to become part of the Indian American community, as an extended family. The discussion aimed to better inform and educate the students about their future in the United States.
Ms. Gupta then invited, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder and Chairman of GOPIO International and advisor to GOPIO Manhattan, in collaboration to which the event took place, who addressed the gathering. Dr. Abraham said, “Around 50 years ago, when I arrived in New York as a student at Columbia University, communication with our homeland was very limited and expensive. Making an international call could cost up to $3 and take a whole day to connect. Back then, foreign students were assigned host families. However, in today’s networked world, we are all
connected through platforms like WhatsApp and social media. There are now 4.5 million people of Indian origin living in the United States, ready to support and guide you. Since 2018, we’ve
organized a program to welcome new students with a dinner event in Stamford, Connecticut. We shared this idea to do a program in New York’ve had support from the Consul General of Indian, even though we had to skip 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, in 2021 and beyond, we’ve resumed these welcome programs. This marks the fourth one, and we’ve invited students from colleges in the New York area, including some from Harvard. The United States is a fantastic country that provides opportunities for all. You can pursue any path, whether it’s a career in a large corporation, managing an investment fund, scientific research, teaching, or entrepreneurship. Personally, I’m involved in advanced materials and nanotechnology consulting, but my true passion has been building community institutions since I arrived in 1973. I’ve established seven such institutions in the last 50 years, including the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) New York I initiated in 1976.”
GOPIO, it is a secular community organization for Indian expatriates (NRIs) and people of Indian origin (PIO), with a non-religious and non-political nature, encompassing over 100 chapters in 35 countries. The newest chapter is located in Manhattan and actively engages in community service. Students are welcome to volunteer their time for activities such as community feeding programs, which are conducted on the last Monday of every month. If an interest in volunteering arises, the vice president Dr. Vimal Goyle can be reached out to. The primary goal of this event was to establish connections between students and the Indian American community, offering opportunities for interaction with consulate officials, speakers, presenters, and mentors in attendance.
GOPIO Manhattan Board Member Raj Panjabi introduced the moderator and panelists. Dr. Nilanjan Sen, Ph.D., CFA, a Professor of Finance) in the School of Business at the University of Albany, State University of New York was the moderator. He brought a wealth of experience from his role as the former Dean of the School of Business at the University of Albany, effectively bridging the corporate and academic realms. The panel also featured Dr. Mohini Mukherjee, the Executive Director of International Student Services at Rutgers, who offered insights into the academic perspective. Additionally, Mr. Debasis Sahu, Partner Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC), shared his corporate expertise, drawing from his over 25 years of experience in the United States. He shed light on what companies seek when hiring graduates.
Ms. Prashanthi Reddy Esq. provided valuable guidance on immigration-related matters, guiding students on transitioning from F1 to CPT/OPT and ultimately to the coveted H1B status. Last but
not least, Ms. Suruchi Saini, Founder Holistic Bonfire LLC, a Board certified licensed professional counselor and tele mental health provider, addressed the challenges of managing stress and anxiety, particularly in the academic context.
The Discussion started with Immigration Attorney Prashanthi Reddy, with her legal insights. She emphasized on the importance of understanding and following the guidelines to avoid legal issues and maintain a successful academic and professional journey in the United States. She mentioned, “Here are some key points to remember for international students in the United States. Your visa duration depends on your course length, so ensure you maintain full-time enrollment and stay informed about changing regulations, especially for online classes. Avoid fraudulent universities and use Curricular Practical Training (CPT) judiciously, following your school's guidelines. Steer clear of illegal activities, including using fake IDs, and never work without proper authorization. In case of legal issues, consult an immigration attorney. Stay updated on immigration policies and comply with specific regulations for foreign students when taking online courses.”
Dr. Mohini Mukherjee shared, “Connect with your campus’s International Student Services office, attend their programs, and follow them on social media for support. Use the many resources available on your campus, from career services to academic writing support, to enhance your experience. Remember to maintain your legal status by staying informed about updates and reporting changes. Be open to the opportunities around you.”
Ms. Suruchi Saini advocated a holistic approach to life, combining the science of yoga, psychology, and neuroscience. She emphasized the importance of staying connected with one’s
mind and taking care of the brain, considering it one’s most valuable asset. This holistic approach includes understanding the impact of food on brain function and the connection between physical and mental well-being. She added, “Daily self-reflection, meditation, or even just a few minutes of quiet time to sharpen one’s focus and maintain a strong connection between the mind and body.” She suggested, “Such practices not only promote relaxation but also help individuals envision their future, set long-term and short-term goals, and track their progress. Additionally, she advised maintaining emotional intelligence and logical thinking separately, using the logical brain in professional contexts and understanding that constructive feedback is about improving tasks, not personal rejection.
Mr. Debasis Sahu imparted wisdom to students, emphasizing the unique educational journey he embarked on, in New York. He stressed on the significance of perpetual learning and self- improvement since knowledge is readily available, making adaptability a competitive advantage. He said, “Overcoming self-doubt and taking charge of one’s career by practicing self-reflection is encouraged. It’s suggested that students find their purpose and passion, as this naturally draws knowledge and information. The importance of collaborating with others and honing effective communication skills is also highlighted. In essence, students are advised to seize their opportunities, focus on continuous learning and growth, and nurture vital skills like collaboration and clear communication for a prosperous career.”
One of the very intriguing questions thrown to them in the panel was about how to tackle the challenges students come across in their journey in a new country. To which Dr. Mohini Mukherjee said, “The importance of preparation as a key element for success, especially in the context of interviews and planning for various aspects of life as international students.” Furthermore, she emphasized the fact that interviews are an opportunity for mutual assessment, with students learning about the company while the company assesses the students. Overall, she underscored the value of preparation in navigating challenges and making the best impression in various situations.
Sahu added to this, “I’ve received and personally adopted some valuable advice that continues to guide me. One piece of advice is to embrace discomfort because growth often arises from
challenging and uncomfortable situations. Another is to recognize that life is a journey, so it's essential to pace yourself and prioritize your well-being. Stress and anxiety are part of life, but
managing them through activities like exercise, talking to someone, and maintaining your fitness is crucial for your career and avoiding burnout. These principles have proven helpful for me.”
Reddy said, “In my journey, I discovered the importance of venturing beyond my comfort zone. While I initially pursued a career in law and thought of myself as solely a lawyer focused on
legal briefs and client communication, I eventually embarked on the path of running my own business. Transitioning into this role required me to step into the realm of marketing, which was
far from my comfort zone as I wasn’t inclined to self-promotion. However, as I took the leap, I found that I not only enjoyed it but also learned the value of embracing self-marketing. I realized that it’s more fulfilling for people to recognize me for who I am as a person rather than merely for my professional role.”
Dr. Sahani followed by saying, “My advice to you all is to dive wholeheartedly into your vision, explore and gather resources, and maintain a balance between your personal and professional
growth. Challenges will arise, but with self-awareness and the ability to focus, you can overcome them. Keep emotions in check, stay logical and focused, and you’ll not only overcome challenges but also be in a position to uplift those around you. Wishing you all the best!”
This panel discussion served as a valuable resource for international students, providing them with guidance, motivation, and strategies to navigate their unique educational journey in a new
country. It reinforces the idea that preparation, self-reflection, embracing discomfort, and venturing outside one's comfort zone are key elements in achieving success and personal growth.
The vote of thanks was given by Ms. Bhavya Gupta on behalf of Mr. Shivender Sofat, President GOPIO-Manhattan, highlighting the importance of the takeaways from the accomplished panel.
There were many other volunteers from GOPIO-Manhattan including Co-Secretary Dr. Lisa George and Venkat Boyalla and student volunteers from NYU Tandon School of Engineering Priya Kundu Sneha Kripa Tirchy Shekar. In the end, the shared wisdom and experiences of these esteemed panelists underscore the message that international students can achieve not only their
academic and professional goals but also their personal growth and fulfillment. With the right mindset and preparation, they can embrace their unique journey, overcome challenges, and
ultimately thrive in a new country.
See the video of the program streamed through Facebook live at
This report was prepared NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering student Priya Kundu. For more
info on GOPIO Manhattan, call President Shivender Sofat at 731-988-6969, e-mail:
[email protected] or visit here: https://gopiomanhattan.org/