UT-Austin organizations host South Asian Olympics to unite groups on campus

Lawson Freeman

Nine teams of students competed Sunday in various high-energy activities during the second annual South Asian Olympics. 

The Texas Indian Students Association and Seva Charities hosted activities such as relays, tug of war and an eating contest. Rather than hosting a small social event, organizers thought the friendly competition would bring more students together, said Nishita Pondugula, co-president of the Indian Students Association.

“This was something we wanted to do to try and be more involved with other organizations and form better relationships with them,” said Pondugula, a religious studies and neuroscience senior. “We did it for the first time last year, so we’re trying to make this a recurring thing, (to) get the word out about it and then hopefully have more people participate in the future.”

Pondugula said registration for the event had a fee of $5 per person to cover the cost of food and game materials. She said the group purchased reusable materials so the South Asian Olympics can donate future proceeds from this event to Akshaya Patra, Seva Charities partner charity.

Other organizations that participated in the South Asian Olympics included MannMukti, a nonprofit dedicated to discussing South Asian mental health, the Ismaili Muslim Students Association and Omega Phi Alpha, a national service sorority. Although this year’s event was open to students who are not members, a goal of the South Asian Olympics was to bring together UT’s various South Asian organizations, said Neha Shah, co-president of the Texas Indian Students Association.

“(Indian Students Association) used to be an umbrella organization for South Asian organizations … but we’ve released that role,” said Shah, a marketing and business honors senior. “We just wanted to bring back that spirit of all being part of a group together through South Asian Olympics and through bringing together a lot of other South Asian groups that don’t usually get to interact.”

The event encouraged interaction between different groups and offered fun activities, chemistry sophomore Karan Uppal said.

“I wouldn’t get out this much if it wasn’t for the organization,” Uppal said. “Having organizations like this for me as a transfer student gives me more opportunities to meet new people which definitely helps. And beyond meeting people, just having fun and using my Sunday, I wouldn’t be doing anything else.”