Newsletter April 24

April showers may bring May flowers, and for our Malayalee community, they usher in much-loved festivals like Easter, Vishu, and Ramadan. I trust you all had the chance to celebrate these with friends and family.

May is high school graduation month, and the next edition of our newsletter will feature 2024 graduating seniors from the community. If you would like your senior to be featured in the COMA newsletter, please share their details along with a senior portrait with our EC team. Kindly send the information to coma.officials@gmail.com.

A dedicated group of Malayalees has been training for the OhioHealth Capital City Half and Quarter Marathons over the past few months. The group leader, Austin Pereira, has done an admirable job coordinating the training runs. The 56 strong team is gearing up for their finest performance yet on race day that is on Saturday, April 27th. Here’s to wishing each and every one of the runners the very best!

— Smitha Nishant

Immigration advocacy initiative – Girish Sasankasekhar

(Girish lives in New Albany with his wife Divya and two children, Gautham and Diksha. He works in the IT industry and has been active in various social engagements nationally. He hails from Trivandrum.)

I would like to share a recent experience of a great opportunity that me and my son (Gautham Girish) got to attend: a joint session at the Executive Office of the White House, for an immigration advocacy initiative.

For the past 5 years, I have been collaborating with various organizations on immigration advocacy initiatives for the welfare of Employment-Based immigrants, specifically H1B and L1 category of applicants and dependents. I am sure most of you are aware either directly or indirectly about the various challenges being faced by EB (Employment Based Visa) families, being on a long wait to process Green Cards, visa stampings, or dependent related job issues. Despite various legislative efforts being initiated in the congress for more than a decade, it’s a sad reality that there is no solution yet to resolve the broken immigration system. My personal goal is to continue to keep our voices heard in the best ways we can, by collaborating with various organizations or panel members to help us find a solution for the EB community, to overcome their uncertainties, and to provide a peaceful life for their families and children.

As part of the ongoing efforts, I was successful in establishing relationships with various committee members and the counsel of the House and Senate. As a result, we finally got an opportunity to get introduced to the executives of the White House Immigration team. We requested a joint session with USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), to talk through some of the ongoing problems, and to request/explore for some temporary solutions due to the current political situation in the congress. My son was included to represent children who will potentially face challenges to continue their education and their career path beyond 21 years of age. We also had a senior immigration attorney from Georgia join our panel to talk through the legal aspects of the situation. The meeting was very successful by having the Senior Advisor of USCIS Director along with White House officials listening to our concerns, and they have promised to explore temporary measures while Congress continues to make efforts for major law changes.

It was such a proud moment to represent more than a million Employment-Based immigrants, and we are committed to have follow up conversations till we see a successful outcome. If anyone would like to be part of such initiatives and make your voices heard, you are more than welcome to reach out to me anytime.

COMA Meals on Wheels : Quarter 1 update – Nish Nishant

(Nish Nishant lives in Worthington, OH with his wife Smitha and son Rohan, and coordinates the COMA Meals on Wheels program.)

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the dedicated volunteers who have generously given their time and effort to support the COMA Meals on Wheels program this year. Your unwavering commitment and compassion have made a significant difference in the lives of those in our community who rely on this vital service. Your selflessness and dedication embody the spirit of community and kindness that COMA symbolizes. Thank you for making a meaningful impact through the COMA Meals on Wheels routes.

If you’d like to volunteer for COMA Meals on Wheels, please reach out to the EC team.

Know your EC team – Yoga Venu (2024 General Secretary)

A humble kid innocently asked the universe, “Hey, if you’ve got my life all figured out, why bother praying?” And what does the universe do? Universe politely responds with a metaphorical reflection, linking one’s life to the pages of a book, each event scripted with the directive to “let it happen as per your wish.”

Yes! Despite the predetermined course set forth by the universe, it is our beliefs and thoughts that would shape our destiny!

This sense of realization ignited a flame of empowerment within me, prompting a shift towards “positive thinking” and “believing in myself”.

And then, out of the blue, I find myself with COMA, being part of EC 2024 as General Secretary.

Yep, that’s right. Me, Yoga Venu, born and raised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Being a blend of Tamil and Malayalam cultures, I’m like the ultimate cultural cocktail and my roots are from Kuttipuram, Malapuram district in Kerala. Like many of you, Pazhampori and Kappa & Meen Curry are my weaknesses.

Reflecting on my academic pursuits, I always question myself why I had troubled myself with such rigor, when perhaps a gentler approach would have sufficed. I apparently took my academics a little more serious than needed. Nevertheless, the lessons gleaned from this introspection paved the way for personal growth and enlightenment.

After three decades of sipping filter coffee in Chennai, in 2016, I decided to shake things up and move to the dream land of many. Of course I am one of them!

They say, the US is like “Actor Rajinikanth”; you might not get it at first, but eventually you will throw confetti at it! Let me tell you, I felt the same when I landed in the States. However, the initial disorientation gave way to the unexpected sense of belonging.

First stop, New Jersey and Chicago – where the pizzas are deep and the winters are deeper. But then, I landed in Columbus Ohio. Ah, Columbus – the land of conservative vibes and slow living. It’s like the universe said, “Hey you have been running like a headless chicken, why not chill here for a bit?”

And here I am, chilling in Columbus for the past 8 years, with my daughter, Chetana alias Ishika Menon, who’s 20, going on 200 with her wisdom.

Because, when life throws you curveballs, you just gotta roll with it, having your choices and convictions as the influencers!

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