South Asian students use comedy to stand in solidarity with refugees


Photo Credit: Ann Morris

South Asian student groups shed light on a serious subject by putting on a comedy show on Saturday to raise money for refugees in Austin.

OneWay SAIV, an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship of South Asian students, and Ismaili Muslim Student Association created a platform to unite the campus through the Stand Up For Refugees show, held at the SAC Auditorium. Saaya, a South Asian fusion dance team, and South Asian fraternity Delta Epsilon Psi provided the entertainment for the night, along with other South Asian students. The donations raised by all participating groups and performers went to the Refugee Services of Texas.

The acts included a wide range of jokes from President Donald Trump’s executive ban to being single on Valentine’s Day.

Bilal Qazi, Delta Epsilon Psi President, said the nature and timeliness of the show is what made it important.

“In times like these where some quite divisive decisions are being made, I think this show is a great way to bring light on a serious subject in a way that will bring people together, not divide them,” Qazi said.

The piece performed by Saaya was based on the story of a woman who saved hundreds of lives by sacrificing her own. The team’s goal was to teach the audience about something that helps put the rest into perspective. 

Shweta Julka, international relations and global studies sophomore, said she danced to raise awareness for volunteer-based programs where students can have more of a direct impact.

“Many people who fear getting involved politically believe that what they do won’t necessarily make a difference,” Julka said. “However, if a light-hearted approach to a topic like this is effective in sparking interest among people who wouldn’t normally make it a point to associate themselves with anything this controversial, then I’m all
for it.”

The Refugee Service of Texas welcomes and supports refugees, immigrants and other displaced people with integrating and thriving in new communities. IMSA president Nausheen Lalani said living by action has the greatest impact on change.

 “I think donation and funding are very vital to keep these groups fighting for their cause, especially in this crucial time,” Lalani said.

OneWay SAIV president Nancy Varughese said she hopes events such as this won’t be the last.

“It is necessary for us to speak up for those without a voice like refugees and be a trail blazer for the other Texas universities,” Varughese said.