The Indian Cultural Exchange (ICE) is a non-profit group on campus. Their main goal is to bring awareness and understanding of the Indian culture and get rid of stigmas. This organization is open to all students, faculty, and staff. The organization started with just 12 members and peaked at 87 members last year.
Reeya Patel is one of the founding members of Indian Cultural Exchange. ICE promotes an environment where people feel comfortable to have open discussions and remove barriers between cultures, Patel said. ICE has been able to change the environment and make it more comfortable for students on campus.
ICE hosts several events every year, including Garba. “This is a time to be together with family and people in the community and be thankful for what we have”, she said.
Patel said that ICE’s biggest fundraiser of the year is Diwali, which is a celebration of lights and the Indian New Year. Diwali is a cultural event where all types of religious people join in to celebrate. All of the proceeds from this event go to Family Promise of Augusta, which is a non-profit organization that helps homeless families. This year to celebrate Diwali, ICE will be hosting a Mehndi Night event. Traditionally this is the night before an Indian wedding, where the bride will get henna done. At this event they will have a talent show and vote for the best Rani (Queen) and Raja (King), also known as Mr. and Ms. ICE, she said.
During the 2018-2019 academic school year ICE won the best student organization on campus and third place in the Step Show. Patel said “this was one of the coolest things to experience”.