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Help is just a call away for Indian students in the US

Telugu students in the United States in distress don't call up the 911 (US emergency services number) but the local TEAM Square volunteers, part of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA). Such is the popularity of the group among Telugu students and other families in distress, says Mohan Nannapaneni, Executive Vice-President, TANA.

The TEAM Square made its mark helping the Telugu students who were either killed or injured in accidents that saw a steep rise in the last two years.

The team members personally take out their time informing the parents back home, coordinating their visits and arranging for shifting the bodies to India after completing the formalities.

Huge costs are involved in it,” Mr. Mohan says adding that they have spent more than 2 lakh dollars in the recent past.

Team Square has done a credible job raising money from the community and several times volunteers chipping in from their pocket.

Mr. Mohan is annoyed that there is little response from the Indian embassy or officials when such unfortunate incidents occur.

“I am surprised at the lackadaisical approach of officials. They don't have funds or the finances and its something the Government should seriously think.” In fact, Mr. Mohan suggests that some fund should be created to deal with such incidents and students coming to USA should also contribute.

“Lot of people are willing to give their time when such incidents take place and that itself is great sacrifice. We also financially contribute as we don't want to see our kids and their families back home suffer,” he says.

When it comes to helping the community, Mr. Mohan says Telugus bury their differences.

“Whether its TANA or ATA or some local Telugu group we all work together,” he says adding that they were all concerned about Telugu students. On the students' problems in some universities, he feels most students are well aware of the situation but they turn a blind eye as their only motive is to land in the USA. The low quality courses don't give proper jobs and they end up doing odd jobs.

Stating that the series of accidents involving Telugu students was unfortunate, Mr. Mohan said the Team Square has come out with some guidelines that can prevent the accidents to a large extent.

“In most cases safety measures were not followed either due to ignorance or simply they violated the rules.

The guidelines will ensure students' safety, help them understand the culture of America and behave accordingly apart from respecting the law agencies to keep themselves out of trouble. The guidelines include some simple tips which students and other visitors tend to ignore. Mr. Mohan says that students take risks for part-time jobs outside campus and the risk of violence is very high in jobs involving cash-management like convenience stores, gas stations, and delivery services, particularly in late shifts and in high-crime areas.

Mr. Mohan advises them not to take up unauthorised part time jobs while on a student visa as it may lead towards deportation and debarment of future visits to the US. “If you encounter a robber or mugger demanding money or valuables, don't resist.”

The guidelines say that - Do not drive if you do not have an appropriate license or adequate automobile insurance, Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances or drugs, Do not offer a ride to hitchhikers or unknown persons or seek a ride from unknown person. The safety guidelines are available on ‘'.


Source: The Hindu

Wednesday , 14   December , 2011