The farm that refugees call home


By Nikita Mandhani The Global Gardens Refugee Training farm is a one-acre plot of land in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago that serves about 100 refugee families mostly from Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and Congo. For Linda Seyler, the founder, director and the farm manager, the program is a way to help refugees segue into the American […]

Local band blends east and west to get people dancing and talking

By Nikita Mandhani FunkaDesi is a Chicago-based band that represents diverse ethnic communities through its members, music and fan base. The band is a six-time winner of the Chicago Music Awards and combines Indian music with western trends. [vimeo 162015929 w=474] A FunkaDesi performance uses music to enhance deeper conversations about unity and diversity. (Nikita […]

La Perla: Vibrant San Juan neighborhood emerges from checkered reputation

By Nikita Mandhani La Perla is an old neighborhood just outside the northern historic city wall of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Stretching about 600 meters along the Caribbean Sea, the neighborhood is tucked between Calle Norzagaray and Fort San Cristobal. La Perla has been an infamous neighborhood since its early days. In the 19th […]

Bindis and Bruises: A dance theatre featuring stories of abuse

By Nikita Mandhani The Chicago DanzTheatre Ensemble is set to start its new show, Bindis and Bruises on Friday, March 4. The show was conceived and choreographed by Priya Narayan who is a trained classical Indian dancer. Ellyzabeth Adler is the director, co-writer and co-choreographer for the performance. [vimeo 157640341 w=474] A video preview of […]

Growing trends of Halal food in Chicago

By Nikita Mandhani Devon Avenue is packed with several grocery stores and restaurants that serve zabiha halal meat. With the influx of Muslim immigrants in the U.S. over the last few decades, halal food has become a recognized term in the American food business. [vimeo 156487346 w=474] Chicago and its suburbs are seeing a rapid […]

Syrian refugees struggle with American schools

By Nikita Mandhani Firas Jawish arrived in Chicago with his family as a Syrian refugee in September 2014. Despite being a doctor, he makes ends meet by working in a data entry job at a clinic. One of his daily concerns is finding an appropriate school for his 3-year-old son, Hasan.

Protesters fight for undocumented immigrants

By Nikita Mandhani Chicagoans woke up Tuesday morning to word that demonstrators were blocking traffic on Congress Parkway at LaSalle Street. They were protesting the nation’s deportation policies. Twelve were arrested. Here’s what’s left behind after the protests for undocumented families who are fighting for #Not1More deportation. [vimeo 155726722 w=474] Individuals protest against ICE raids […]

Hema Rajagopalan: A dancer unfurling Indian culture in Chicago (Video)

By Nikita Mandhani Hema Rajagopalan, an acclaimed Indian classical dancer, moved to Chicago from India in 1974. With a master’s degree in nutrition, she chose to quit dancing and work as a dietician in the city. But, her passion for the dance of Bharata Natyam won over. A leading member of the Indian-American community persuaded […]

Unmasked: A platform for cultural expressions for Muslim youth (Video)

By Nikita Mandhani Amarah Alghaban clutched the mic as she recited a verse from one of her favorite poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, about the plight of Palestinians. “And these are not two equal sides: occupier and occupied. And a hundred dead, two hundred dead, and a thousand dead. And between that, war crime and […]