In order to promote South Asian cultural diversity on campus, the Desi Aggies hosts free weekly Time4Chai events on Fridays at 8 p.m. at the Aggie Baptist Student Ministry where students of all backgrounds can meet to chat, play games and drink chai tea.
The original Time4Chai events were simple get-togethers among friends. One of the founding members is the current president of Desi Aggies, computer engineering graduate student Raghav Krisha.
“A few years back, a bunch of students came together to make chai (Indian tea) for their group to meet, hang out, socialize and have fun,” Krisha said. “Last year, the current batch of students decided to make it into an official organization, making its goal to give students a place to feel comfortable, meet new people, have fun, and help each other settle into Aggieland and make it a home. Thus formed Desi Aggies.”
Desi Aggies is a student organization that gives South Asian groups the opportunity to collaborate. Desi refers to a person whose ethnicity is from South Asia or the Indian subcontinent. In addition to the club’s popular Time4Chai events, Desi Aggies organizes volunteer opportunities on campus, trips around Texas and other fun stress-reducing activities on weekends.
These Time4Chai events have grown substantially over the years, with about 150 students attending each week.
“The event itself has no agenda,” Krisha said. “It starts at 8 p.m., but most students come in around 9 p.m. There one or two varieties of chai prepared, board games on tables and few action games set-up. Students can just come in, hang around, meet people, play a few games or even make use of the open mic to sing or crack jokes.”
At the first Time4Chai event of the semester on Friday, Jan. 24, students from various classes, majors and ethnicities attended, including chemistry senior Mayur Aggarwal.
“I’ve been to these Time4Chai events many times on and off for the past couple semesters,” Aggarwal said. “I come mainly to socialize and to drink authentic chai tea.”
The socialization that goes on during the event doesn't end on Friday night. Many students, such as business freshman Faith Carroll, hang out other days during the week as well.
“I love making connections with people and helping exchange students transition into their lives in the States,” Carroll said. “I’ve come to every Time4Chai event in the last semester and made great friendships from it. I’ve tried to bring some exchange students into the fold through attending football games with them and taking them grocery shopping.”
Avery Browning, telecommunication and media studies junior, also heard about the Time4Chai events through the organization Freshmen Leaders in Christ (FLIC). As a member, the core of their mission is to learn about students from different backgrounds and to bridge the gap between religious and cultural barriers.
“I come to the Time4Chai events because it’s a great space to make friends and a good time to debrief from a busy week,” Browning said. “At the events I’ve experienced different cultures and shared my own. For instance, at one event some exchange students were singing country music, so I took it upon myself to teach some of them how to two-step.”
When the club was in its first semester, there were only 15 students. Krisha joined as the club’s secretary and Krisha said the team quickly became close friends, building the club into the welcoming, cultural gathering that is is today
“We had so much fun organizing Time4Chai and other events and as the next semester started, we were pretty much family,” Krisha said. “Next thing I know I was elected president, which meant I had people who trust me, people who support me and people I can fall back on when I need help. And I feel that is what anyone who joins Desi Aggies can expect to have — a safe zone.”