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Volunteering Globally

People listening to a panel discussion
People listening to a panel discussion
Alumni panel discussion at the Ministry of New, Mumbai. Photo by Kartik Rathod
Written by
Eleanor Harvey
Published date
27 May 2020

A lot of our alumni live internationally, and we’re always trying to think of new ways to continue our support. Luckily, we have some incredible volunteers who give up their time to create and run our International Alumni Associations and Groups.

The UAL India Alumni Group have been very active during the current lockdown, hosting online events for the alumni community. We wanted to share some insight into why they started the group and how they’re keeping it going.

Alumni listening to a panel discussion
UAL India Alumni Reception in the Ministry of New, Mumbai. Photo by Kartik Rathod

The committee

The UAL India Alumni Group is led by two dedicated volunteers; Karishma Shahani Khan who did a BA in Fashion Design Technology at London College of Fashion (LCF); and Shruti Singh, who studied on the Fashion Entrepreneurship MA at LCF.

Karishma is the founder of Ka-Sha, a clothing and textile focused studio, that also has a zero-waste initiative, Heart to Haat, which focuses on upcycling materials.

Shruti is the founder of LEAPP India, an organisation that helps young citizens engage in their communities; as well as this she is also the Head of Policy at Fashion Revolution India, working at the intersection of design, sustainability, and public policy.

For both of them, the desire to connect with UAL alumni was based on the experiences that they had shared and the value it could add to their design practice back in India; Karishma says she started the group as ‘the need to connect with others who had been through a similar experience and brought that experience back to India was of so much value.’

Shruti adds that ‘there is diverse talent, skills, and knowledge that alumni collectively bring together, that would be immensely resourceful to the design community.’

For them the best thing about the UAL India Alumni Group is the variety of people;  ‘Meeting incredibly talented people, having invigorating conversations, sharing opportunities to learn something new every day, sparking ideas that can change the world, and exchanging unforgettable insights and conversations.’

Alumni socialising
Alumni socialising at the UAL India Alumni Reception at the Ministry of New, Mumbai. Photo by Kartik Rathod

Current activities

The Committee has been hosting regular online events covering a range of topics, to keep the group engaged and connected with each other.

Their first digital event was focussed on COVID-19 and the challenges it brings to those working in the creative industries; the group shared insights on coping with uncertainty, leadership lessons and ways forward. ‘We discussed opportunities for personal and professional growth, silver linings, and how the community members can help each other. It was a great session and fostered a strong connection digitally.’

But they’ve also held events where the discussion has been around the responsibilities of entrepreneurship, to the stigma of mental health and how to combat it.

‘We are consciously trying to build not just as a collective but also focussing on the personal growth of individuals.’

Plans for the future

Krishna and Shruti have big plans for the future of the group too;

Our community is growing and we are proactively working on a lot of different activities and opportunities. In the next few months, we are focussing on digitalising round table conferences, holding panel discussions, and offering mentorship sessions and master classes.’

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