Attendees of the SPCS Young Professionals Conference pose after adding their murals to Graffiti Park. Photo by: Keya Balar
The Saurashtra Patel Cultural Samaj (SPCS) held its first ever Young Professionals Conference in Austin, TX from January 26th to January 28th. The conference, hosted at the Westin Downtown Austin, aimed to create a professional network among the Saurashtra Patel diaspora in the United States. The SPCS has chapters in California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C.
“The goal of the conference was to bring together young professionals across the Samaj’s chapters in the US for a 3-day networking event to revitalize a connection with a community of people with deep ancestral roots,” said Kunal Parbadia, a board member of the Young Professionals Conference. “The conference showcased how our community can be vibrant, engaged and significant for social identity.”
They keynote speaker, Indicorps co-founder Roopal Shah, shared stories of her experiences of traveling in India. Indicorps is an international nonprofit that allows Indians from around the world to reconnect with communities in India through service.
Featured seminar topics at the Young Professionals Conference included careers in healthcare, non-traditional career paths, and entrepreneurship. The program also included discussions on how to maintain aspects of Indian culture while living in America.
“For some individuals, this was the beginning of finding acceptance in their life’s decisions as first generation Americans,” said Priya Dhanani, a board member of the Young Professionals Conference. “The success of the conference was felt as attendees realized their shared values of family advancement, communal support, social acceptance, career growth and the importance of taking ownership of our culture.”
In addition, the SPCS Young Professionals Conference included a tour of Austin. The city is the home of tourist destinations like the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, otherwise known as Graffiti Park. The private property on Castle Hills allows street artists to display large-scale murals for the Austin community. Visitors can register with the HOPE Outdoor Gallery and spray paint a mural of their own, as long as the artwork respects other murals and has positive messaging.
Austin might be most famous for 6th Street, which is lined with bars with quirky names like Easy Tiger, Buffalo Billiards, and Midnight Cowboy. Tourists can also visit Esther’s Follies for sketch comedy shows, and the Velveeta Room to watch local stand-up comedians perform their sets. For folks who like haunted buildings, the Driskill Hotel, located at Sixth and Brazos, is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
Standing over the city at 302 feet, the Texas State Capitol is located in downtown Austin. Austin locals boast that the building is almost 15 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol, which stands at 288 feet. Inside the building, visitors can find a massive portrait of Davy Crockett, a mosaic depicting the six flags of Texas throughout its history, and a jaw-dropping rotunda with portraits of past Texas governors.