After several urgent messages from HSA National CFO, Ramya Ravi on Thursday June 28th, I found out about an event in Houston, TX: the North American Telugu Association convention. It took a some last-minute schedule changes and convincing my parents before I was driving to Houston the next night with HSA National Secretary, Shashi Dongur and University of Texas, Dallas (UTD) HSA alumnus, Sindhu Sudanagunta. None of us knew exactly what our schedule or tasks for the weekend would be; in fact, all we knew was that we would be attending a convention with over 5,000 other Telugu-speaking people around the nation, representing and talking about HSA.
We jumped into our trip with an open mind and hoping to take positive experiences out. Saturday began by meeting highly successful businessmen and entrepreneurs attending the convention, and the men behind the planning of the NATA convention such as the NATA President A.V.N. Reddy. One of these very accomplished men in particular was Srikanth Konda. Talking to Mr. Konda and learning about the different projects and opportunities that we could take advantage of, was undoubtedly one of the best parts of the weekend! By the end of our conversation, both the UTD branch and the Austin College branch were given a book each of Swami Vivekananda’s greatest quotes.
Following our meetings, we had some time to attend a spiritual question and answer session featuring three Swamijis: Paripurnananda Giri Swamiji, Ahobila Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji and, my personal favorite, Dada Savitananda Swamiji. The Swamijis took turns answering questions asked by the audience. After talking to Dada Savitananda Swamiji, I found that he once was actually a practicing allopathic physician in Germany, but then decided that his spiritual calling exceeded his medical calling and therefore switched his career track. He resides in Germany, but only came to Houston for the NATA convention; therefore having him there with us was an honor and opportunity. The three of us took full advantage of by asking mostly conceptual questions such as how to explain why Hindu women wear a “bindi”, what can be done to help the segregation within Hinduism (i.e. people worshipping different gods and the resulting clash) or how to reach the ultimate goal of liberation in a human life. As a student attending medical school in the fall, I was especially very interested in what Dada had to say about Hinduism because he offered a perspective from a physician’s standpoint. He offered advice to Sindhu and I, aspiring physicians, on how to relate Hinduism with medicine, which we both found to be very refreshing and informative.
After our session with the Swamijis, we decided to spend some time with other Hindu youth and talk to them about HSA and why we were attending the convention;. During this time, we got the opportunity to talk to Dr. Prem Reddy, the grand sponsor of the NATA convention, the owner of Prime Healthcare Services, and in-charge of 14 hospitals nationwide. Dr. Reddy began his talk by explaining his background, and telling us how he was the first in his family to attend higher education and thereby began talking about the importance of humility and how he truly enjoys being a doctor. He explained that even though he goes to work early and comes back late his energy is always sustained “because people always look at [him] like a savior… [He] saves a life and they are truly thankful for it.” He expressed that this positive feedback was incredibly enriching and there was nothing in the world like it and that the definition of positivity was “never giving up despite failures, but instead channeling that energy into productivity”. He went on to explain his business ventures and how he wished to bring better healthcare to the public, which therefore pushed him to create the Prime Healthcare empire, and all of this was dependent on his “spirit of entrepreneurship and that hope or desire to do well never diminished”. Dr. Reddy’s words were not only inspirational, but also touching, and it was exactly what I needed to hear to rejuvenate my passion and excitement for beginning medical school in a few weeks.
This convention was not only spiritually enriching, but I was also able to network with phenomenal people who were eager to provide opportunities and reinforce my desire to be a physician. I never could have imagined that I would be able to get so much out of one weekend in Houston, but this was all available to me because of HSA! So thank you Ramya and HSA, for urging me to go!