Through appreciating the nuances of the South Asian identity, we aim to strengthen our sense of community and culture. This approach allows us to be more authentic and intentional with our actions, while simultaneously helping us to address our community’s challenges. We also strive to create spaces that both affirm and question through dialogue, thus expanding our lens of social justice. Our goal is to cultivate ways for these ideals to resonate across communities, both on and off campus.
The 2016 SAAN Conference will be held on Friday, January 22 and Saturday, January 23 in the Michigan League and Alumni Center.
Friday, January 22nd: Starting at 7pm, check in at the Michigan League lobby. Check-in is followed by Qurrat Kadwani's performance of her award-winning solo play, "They Call Me Q."
Saturday, January 23rd: Attend two keynotes and two workshops in the Michigan League and Alumni Center from 9am to 4:30pm. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Afterwards, join us for a formal reception and dinner celebrating the conclusion of the conference at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA).
Cost: $25. Includes 3 meals, a t-shirt, entertainment and entrance to the formal in addition to the conference itself.
Qurrat Ann Kadwani
Quarrat Ann Kadwani is an award-winning actress, producer, MC, TV Host and philanthropist. She is the first South Asian female to have a solo play, "They Call Me Q," produced off Broadway. The performance is the story of a girl from Bombay growing up in the Bougie Down Bronx and along the journey she transforms into 13 characters.
Vishavjit Singh is an artist whose cartoons focus on the latest political, social, economic, and religious developments within the Sikh community around the world. His workshop will involve donning the Captain America Costume to become Sikh Captain America! He was even interviewed by former SAAN Entertainer Hari Kondabolu!
Asher Hasan is a social entrepreneur who holds an M.D. and a M.B.A. Asher is the founder of the Naya Jeevan, which means 'New Life' in Urdu, and DoctHers organizations. Naya Jeevan partners with large multinational companies to provide emergency health insurance to workers who earn less than six dollars a day. DoctHers connects women to women doctors in Pakistan. Asher is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and a TED fellow.
Kelly zen-yie tsai
Kelly is a spoken word poet, writer, filmaker, and activist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured on HBO, MTV Iggy, and at the White House. A few of Kelly's many awards and accolades are her 2014 and 2015 recognition as one of twenty National Leader Award winners by Americorps Alums; she was listed as one of the "30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30" and one of the "Top 40 new Yorkers Who Create Positive Social Change" by Idealist.org in NYC.
Thanu yakupitiyage (DJ USHKA)
Thanu Yakupitiyage is an immigrant rights activist, media professional, and DJ in New York City. She leads media and communications for the New York Immigration Coalition and utilizes local, state, and national media to tell the stories of immigrant communities in the United States. Based in Brooklyn, Thanu is also a cultural organizer and deejays with the stage name "Ushka", utilizing her interests in the arts, music, and culture as a strategic tool towards immigrant rights and organizing. The popularity of Thanu's mixtapes, including "Foreign Brown" and "What Edward Said", led to her to be included in a 2013 list of favorite female deejays by VICE magazine. Her musical interests are as transnational as she is, reflecting her background as a Sri Lankan-born, Thailand-raised, Brooklyn-living migrant. Thanu uses multi-media and storytelling to advocate for racial immigrant justice for communities of color.
Tanzila "Taz" Ahmed & Zahra Noorbakhsh
Tanzila "Taz" Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles. An electoral organizer by trade, she's mobilized thousands of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the polls in over 17 different languages in the past 15 years. Her personal projects include writing about Desi music at Mishti Music where she co-produced Beats for Bangladesh, and making #MuslimVDay Cards.
Zahra Noorbakhsh is a feminist Muslim, Iranian-American comedian bouncing between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. The New Yorker Magazine dubbed her one woman show "All Atheists Are Muslim" a highlight of the Int'l New York City Fringe Theater Festival, the largest multi-arts festival in North America.
Together, Taz and Zahra cohost the monthly #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast.
Ayesha Ghazi holds a BA in Sociology and Political Science from Albion College and has earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Ayesha was an executive director for South Asian Voices for Impact (SAAVI). She is an advocate of the Asian American community and a member of APIAVote’s Asian American Engagement Coalition (AAEC), board member of American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), and Leadership Team Member of the national Take On Hate campaign.
Shruti Bala Purkayastha, based in Los Angeles, is a Liberation Artist working on the intersections of art-making, healing and community organizing with roots in the Midwest. She graduated from USC with a Masters in Applied Theater Arts, a practical degree that gave her training in Theater of the Oppressed and healing modalities to support the freedom struggles on the ground, in the streets, and in our homes. She believes collective liberation is possible, and that it requires deep communal healing. She currently works with TeAda Productions, among other organizations and collectives.