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The Scarlet & Black

Vidush Goswami

Photo by Reina Shahi.
Photo by Reina Shahi.

When asked about the formative experiences of his time at Grinnell, Vidush Goswami ’21 first named an activity he hadn’t planned on being such a large part of his college life: planning and putting on major cultural events for the College community.

“That’s not something I’d done before coming to Grinnell,” he said. But when he and some friends organized a Diwali celebration in his second year with help and funding from SGA and the Office of International Student Affairs, it drove him to get more involved with cultural student organizations. Now, Goswami will leave the College having held various cabinet positions in those groups during his time at Grinnell, including being the secretary for the South Asian Student Organization (SASO) and treasurer for the International Student Organization (ISO) in his third year and the secretary for ISO in his fourth year.

So what’s the appeal he finds in putting together large-scale events?

“I do enjoy putting all the moving parts together, there is a certain joy that comes to that, but I think at the end of the day what matters is seeing how happy it makes other people,” he said. “Because if it’s centered around food or culture or performances, or just a ritual kind of celebration, it sort of reminds people of home and creates a sense of community and belonging, which I think is really special. Just seeing that develop in the people that show up, that’s a pretty rewarding feeling.”

Looking back, Goswami says he wishes he’d engaged with the organizations he worked for even earlier in his time at Grinnell. “[Getting involved with SASO and ISO] really helped me a lot personally, just in terms of personal growth and expanding my social circle and developing into a better-equipped person for the world.”

He sees the College’s student cultural organizations as a focal point for community-building, particularly among international students. “There’s a common sense of belonging, there’s a sense of community, and I think that’s pretty important,” he said. “I’m from India, and in Iowa there’s not a lot of places you can go to experience Indian culture, so it’s one of the only places you can have that sense of feeling at home.”

He also noted the importance of ISO as a place for international students to share common experiences and adjust to arrival at Grinnell: “International students have a bunch of different experiences, but there are also a lot of commonalities between international students. I feel like being part of these organizations helps you recognize those and feel more comfortable, especially when you’re first coming to Grinnell.”

Goswami is double-majoring in computer science and political science at Grinnell – another previously unexpected experience for him. He entered the school intending only to major in computer science, but began taking political science classes his first year out of interest.

“I was four classes in and I realized I could pretty much complete the major, and I had only been taking classes that were interesting to me,” he said. Goswami appreciated having the variety of

coursework and teaching between STEM and social science classes, particularly the exposure to different ideas and ways of thinking within the disciplines.

It’s an academic path of discovery that was made possible by the liberal-arts model he says, and looking back he’s glad to have had that opportunity. “I think it’s really important to get a sense of how the world works outside of your area of interest,”.

After graduation, Goswami will be heading to Des Moines for a software engineering job at an insurance company where he previously interned. In the long term, he hopes to use both his technical and social science knowledge by becoming a technology policy advisor.

In the end, Goswami sees his time at Grinnell as marked by experiences of community and exploration. “I couldn’t have done it without my friends…everyone should have their core set of friends who are with them through thick and thin, and there when you need them.”

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