I cherish my Gadajatia (Narsinghpur being the birthplace of my late father, Haladhar Biswal) identity. I grew up in Cuttack where my father was a celebrated teacher at the Secondary Board High School. I fondly remember my father’s words: “Nobody can ever steal your education from you”. I completed my undergraduate education at Ravenshaw College and earned both my Master’s and PhD in Sociology at JNU in New Delhi. After an eight-year stint teaching at Ravenshaw, my destiny took me to Cambridge University in England for a post-doctoral fellowship in Social Anthropology. In 1989, I joined my husband in Santa Cruz, California where the next seven years were spent in raising our two boys, Alok and Akash. Since 1995, I have been teaching anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I enjoy my research specializing in the study of gender, politics, and religion in South Asia. My research has led me to present papers in many national and international conferences, seminars, workshops and symposia, and has helped me publish extensively.
I proudly wear three hats: devoted mother and wife; serious academic; and deeply committed Odisha community member. I do take great pride in my Odia identity, culture and community, of which I have always been an energetic participant and advocate. I have been honored to be able to promote Odia culture and heritage through many Odissi dance programs and benefit concerts in Santa Cruz. My association with the University has also given me the privilege of creating forums for Odia youths to showcase their talent within the local community, and to expose American students to the rich heritage and culture of Odisha.
Being a long-time member of OSA, I have served OSA in many roles:
It would be an honor to serve the OSA community as president in 2011- 2013.
Our Vision for OSA
We are committed to promoting and celebrating Odisha culture, actively engaging our membership, and providing a forum for fellowship to our community.
Our vision for leading OSA is five-fold:
1. Strengthen communication between local and regional
Our team is committed to inclusive communication and our focus will be on participation. Through a wide variety of methods (including surveys, published reports, increased use of OSAnet), we will give everyone in the community a voice for expressing what they feel that OSA should focus on to better serve our community.
2. Engage our young people
As a mother of two young adult sons, and as someone who has always identified with young people, I strongly believe that the younger members of our community have an enormous amount to contribute to our community if they are engaged. That is one of the reasons why I am so delighted to have such a young and energetic team! Together we will ensure the involvement of second generation Odiyas in OSA activities. We will work for the promotion of our language and culture among young people, as Kuku Das and her team has already been actively doing in the Bay Area. We will also institute an OSA scholarship for young people interested in studying different aspects of Odisha.
3. Develop a member’s database
We are blessed to have so many people with so many talents in our community. We will develop database so that we can better track the resources our community has within our membership.
4. More cultural events
To bring the national organization and the local communities together and to foster stronger inter-chapter relations, we will boost the number of cultural events - drama festivals, inter-regional cultural programs, youth camps, and Odia language camps, and others.
5. Supporting members of our community in need
We will make sure that all of our community members have the support that they need. We will revitalize 1-800-OSA-HELP so that any person who needs help has a place that they can always go for it. As we look ahead to the coming year of OSA, let's remember the inspiring words, "It is the little things that create differences, that in the big things of life we are at one.” We look forward to a year ahead of unity for the OSA community.