DECEMBER 2014
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

FLORIDA 7TH LARGEST HOST STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS; UF NO. 1

By NITISH S. RELE

Florida continues to be ranked seventh in the United States for its number of international students (36,249) attending colleges in the 2013-14 academic year. That’s up 10.7 percent from 2012-13. Most are from China (19.4 percent), India (10.6 percent), followed by Venezuela (7.5 percent) and Saudi Arabia (5.1 percent).

Ranked at No. 20 in the nation for number of international students, University of Florida in Gainesville has the most students from other countries (6,135) in Florida. In fact, UF is the only Sunshine State school among the top 25 for international students in the United States. A distant second is University of Miami (3,283); Florida International University (3,264) in Miami; University of South Florida (3,232) in Tampa and Florida State University (2,227) in Tallahassee.

According to the Open Doors yearly report, published by the not-for-profit Institute of International Education, the number of international students, at about 886,052, attending U.S. colleges and universities represent the eighth straight year of record growth.

China numbered 274,439, which makes the Asian giant No. 1 in sending students to the U.S. at 31 percent. Coming in second at 102,673 students is India (16.5 percent) and South Korea at 68,047 (7.7 percent) of the total. In the Asian subcontinent, Nepal sent 8,155 students.

The number of Indian students in the U.S. in 2013-14 is up 6.1 percent compared to the previous year. However, as for students heading to study in India, there was a 4.7 percent decline. For 2013-14, 4,377 U.S. students went to India.

Currently, the leading host institutions for international students are New York University (11,164), University of Southern California (10,932) followed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (10,843) and Columbia University (10,486).

For more details on the study, visit www.iie.org/opendoors

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‘Sharad’ enthralls Tampa audiences

SHARAD CHOIR
Manikandamoorthi (bm photography)

An audience of 600-plus enjoyed a spectacular performance of “Sharad – A Celebration of Autumn” with nearly pin drop silence Nov. 22 at India Cultural Center in Tampa. “Sharad” is the brainchild of Cincinnati-based composer Kanniks Kannikeswaran, who is credited as the pioneer of the Indian American choral movement in the United States and no stranger to Tampa. “Months of singing paid off, to me it is a much longer bond than this production with the Tampa community. It started five years ago with ‘Chitram,’ ” said Kannikeswaran. “I am glad to see efforts flower as they have.”

His monumental work “Chitram – Portrait of India” was performed to a packed house at ICC in 2009. “Chitram” is associated with the founding of the first ever Indian American choir in Tampa. “Sharad” marks the fifth year of this choir.

SHARAD
Manikandamoorthi (bm photography)

“Sharad explores the philosophy behind the autumn season – that of the idea of ‘maturing and letting go’. It explores the idea of reflection, meditation and celebration. These abstract ideas are explored through a choral symphonic rendition of Indian ragas. A 35-member Indian community choir performed the music score accompanied by a string orchestra and woodwinds, sitar and tabla. Director Kannikeswaran’s compelling narrative tied together the entire production that was choreographed to classical and folk dances and multimedia from India.

Highlights of the program included stunning choreography by Revanta Sarabhai from India and lead vocals by Vidita Kanniks. Audiences described the concert as a rare treat and a mesmerizing and moving experience. Choir singers echoed that sentiment and said it was a magical experience and created heartfelt, lifelong memories. They look forward to more opportunities to learn from and sing with Kannikeswaran. The program was presented by ICC.

For more information, visit www.kanniks.com


TWO WIN MISS INDIA FLORIDA PAGEANT

Story provided by Roshni Hannon, Miss India Florida Committee

SHARAD CHOIR
Photo by B.P. Photography

Monica Shah, left, next to Ramina Ashfaque.

Double the beauty. Winner Monica Shah of Tampa and Ramina Ashfaque from Sunrise will represent Florida in the Miss India USA pageant on Dec. 13 in New Jersey.

Both performed dances for their talent routines at the Miss India Florida pageant Nov. 14 in Tampa and have impressive resumes at such young ages. Monica is a medical school student. Her goal in life is to “evolve into a successful physician, whose knowledge and passion for medicine can positively impact the lives of people everywhere.” Ashfaque is an aspiring journalist and model who has already appeared in magazines.

For their final questions, the judges asked questions on topics ranging from social media and cultural values to being a woman in today’s society. When asked what it means to represent Florida next month at the Miss India USA competition, Shah says she is “extremely humbled and thankful to be chosen to represent Florida. The Indian community here has helped me grow closer to my heritage and culture and I am so proud to be able to show the country how wonderful the sunshine state really is.” Ashfaque “hopes to bring the Florida heat, beauty, talent, and cultural competency to New York.”

The first runner-up was Suniti Patel from Wesley Chapel and the second runner-up was Tejaswini Thakur from Tampa. Thakur was also awarded Miss Bollywood. Radhika Mehrotra of Tampa was voted as Miss Adventure. Jully Patel, also from Tampa, was chosen as Miss Congeniality. Komal Lunejo from Trinity was selected as Miss Philanthropic and Monica Shah as Miss Scholastic.

SHARAD CHOIR
Photo by B.P. Photography

During the show, the audience was entertained with dance performances by Bull Bhangra from the University of South Florida, and UJHOOM, a Bollywood fusion dance team from the University of Miami, along with the comedy of Rajiv Satyal, who was a huge hit with his off-the-cuff Indian humor. There was plenty of excitement when Bollywood beauty Preity Zinta appeared on stage. Zinta and Satyal made quite the on-stage team with Satyal asking her questions about everything from her image as the “good girl” of Bollywood to her favorite co-star.

Story provided by Miss India Florida Committee


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