UK alumni couple start library in India

UK alumni can be found in many places, including on the other side of the world.

Chandan Bas and his wife, Shamala Chickamenahalli, are no exception, and their impact in their hometown of Goalpara Assam, India, is being felt back here in the Bluegrass.

The electrical engineering graduates have started a library in India that focuses on giving back to the community in which they were raised.

“At UK, I always used to study in the library,” Bas said. “In India, the libraries are not like the ones we see here. After seeing the libraries here, I thought it would be a good idea to start a library (in India) with all aspects other than school life.”

The library, called the Chandan Shamala Library, is home to many books in four different languages: Assamese,English, Bangali/Bangla and Hindi.

Students are also able to take classes in music, arts and crafts, drama and dance. The library is currently working on efforts to start physical education classes like Taekwondo and yoga.

“The idea was to keep kids busy so that they stay busy and stay in school,” Bas said.

Once formed out of two rooms in their family’s home, the couple has big future plans for their library. The alums are planning to expand the library to include computers and newspapers, and also include free health checkups for locals.

“I personally feel that if you can impact your community in taking the opportunities that you have, it is huge,” said James Ballard, student affairs coordinator at the College of Engineering. “Education is a luxury with millions of people who don’t have access.”

The alumni, though they have relocated to Phoenix, Ariz., still consider UK their home. The couple encourages current UK students to plan to make a difference in their communities.

“Don’t wait; you do not know what will happen tomorrow,” Das said. “Start small, then grow on it.”

The library is currently looking for donations of children’s books and also money donations to keep the library going in India.

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