Highlighting one such example of a woman that has been able to transform and grow from rather stringent cultural societies, to a modern and visionary individual is Ms. Valsala Sekhar
The world is progressively moving forward with improvements, and developments in various spheres. Man has used his wisdom from inventing the wheel, to technology that has gone into taking him into, the moon. Dominance of Man in every field has given rise, to womanpower, who desire recognition and understand the need to explore their dormant competence levels that exist within them. This has resulted in giving the male counter parts a rush of adrenalin to improve their competitive advantage. Women have been able to make great inroads, within all fields, molding themselves into excellent Leadership and Management roles within organizations as well as in family setups.
Ms.Valsala was born and groomed within a middle class and strong cultural focused family in a village named Vithura, in the District of Trivandrum. Academically she completed her Bachelors from, ‘Woman’s College, Trivandrum, and further went on to complete her Masters from University of Maryland USA. She was able to balance her academics with extra curricular activities whereby she had the honor to represent Kerala University in the hockey team. Her ability to take on Competitive Examinations in India landed her the opportunity to serve as the first Women Inspector to be directly recruited into the Customs and Central Excise within the State Of Kerala. The beckoning of the West and the opportunities lying ahead, Valsala moved into the United States with her husband Mr.Chandra Sekhar, who is a Rating Manager with Patterson Smith Associates, an Independent Insurance Agency. In order to enhance her opportunities she completed her Masters from the University of Maryland, which eventually landed her an assignment with the United States Senate Technology Development Division, as the Project Leader for Software Quality Assurance. All Praise and Honor for Ms. Valsala for being the first individual from the State of Kerala to be assigned with such an enviable Position.
Balancing her commitment with Profession and family, Valsala has been successful in the upbringing of her two daughters, who were able to script their careers with the able guidance of their mother. Malini the eldest daughter aged 24, a graduate from Wellesley College-Massachusetts and presently working with the United States Senate Energy Committee as Staff Assistant. The younger daughter Sonia aged 18 is a final year student in High School. Maintaining family traditions, to preserve and sustain the cultural background, the children have taken great interest in Indian Art and trained themselves to be competent Bharathnatyam Dancers taking part in various cultural programmes.
In her search to sustain and encourage the Indian community to hold steadfast to culture and art, and not embrace the western values she maintained an active role within the Kerala Association of Greater Washington (KAGWC). This provided her the platform to bring together numerous families who unsolicited their inputs, which eventually cascaded to a single focal point, their desire to encourage and sustain the rich cultural themes. In one of her Quotes, “I always tell my children that India may be poor or a developing country, but we are not behind anybody when it comes to cultural wealth”. During her association with the Indian Community, she revealed that Dance, Drama and other kind of performing arts were her passion even before coming to the United States. She had used her ability to coordinate and act in school and college plays and dance functions.
Valsala subscribed to every organization, which promoted the cultural heritage of Kerala, in order to transfer her contribution of knowledge and build relationships, which is a strong attribute of the people of Kerala. Nevertheless, the life of Indo-American Keralites have always revolved around a strong attachment to culture and values, which projects the intensity of Indian Cultural Heritage that is absorbed into ones routine of life.
The younger generation exposed within the western culture, adapt to the western life style, and this has prompted Valsala to establish an Organization-thus the birth of USHAS- that promoted cultural programmes within the United States and also bring in exchange programmes highlighting the rich cultural heritage that exists in “God’s on Country-Kerala.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS
Valsala’s deep conviction and desire to promote Indian culture promoted her to co-ordinate numerous cultural programmes/festivals, which represent Kerala, held in the city of Washington. During the years of co-ordination and reaching the unconsciously competent stage of producing stage programmes/festivals Valsala progressively understood the need to bring about quality in order to communicate to the Indian and non Indian Community.
USHAS which means ‘dawn’ and the acronym for “United States and Hind Artists Society” is being used as a platform to bring rich culture to Indo-American people of Kerala origin and well as non Indian people who value and treasure the rich Cultural Heritage. Enhancing the awareness of Indian culture, and the life of Indian immigrants in the United States, Television was used as a medium to reach out to the masses across the Western and other continents of the world.
In one of Valsala interviews with Asianet during the programme ‘Suprabhatham’ in the year 2000,she was able to highlight a holistic view on the life the Keralities the fortunes and misfortunes that befall them.
Thus, various scripts were studied to bring out the essence of Life of Keralites in the United States through Television serials. The serial ‘American Dreams’ is one such serial that is being telecast after conducting an exhaustive analysis on the life of Keralites by Mr.Renjith Shanker. Shajiyem the well-known director can boat of casting some veteran actors like Padmini, Geetha K S, Ravi Vallathol, Mallika Sukumaran and Sarath, in addition to a host of talented local actors, in the lead roles. The telecast of the serial, took a while since there were major technical hurdles along the way, but Commitment and Determination by Ms. Valsala transformed her aspirations into reality, and today the “American Dreams” has a wide viewer ship. American Dreams may be viewed on Asia net Prime Channel at 9- 8am IST every Sunday.
On the Final question on the objective of USHAS
Valsala concludes,” I think we have all the elements to put together an excellent product, and if nothing else, I think it will be wonderful leaning experience that gives the artists from here and India a chance to creatively work together and interact”.