iagb spotlight

Valsamma Vargise

Valsamma Vargise is a mother, a grandmother, a scientist, a student of religion, a community organizer – but at the heart of it all, she is a passionate gardener. She has the innate understanding of a true gardener that nourishing the roots helps life blossom. And that shows through the life she has cultivated for herself and her community.

Valsamma arrived in the USA from Thiruvalla in Kerala as a Master’s student and she has made New England her home since the mid-1970’s. Along with raising their own kids, she and her husband Joseph were also deeply involved in building a community, i.e. Kerala Association of New England. They both served the organization in various roles and she led it as the President in 1993-94. KANE was established in 1970 and in those early years there were 50-60 Malayali families involved in the organization. “Being so young and so far from home we embraced our friends from KANE as our surrogate family. With love and care from this family we established a new life here, all the while staying connected to our culture and heritage,” says Valsamma. Commitment to KANE was a family affair as her kids and now grandkids too have got family through the organization. As she affectionately recounts all the times and ways her life has been enriched by the KANE family, the symbiosis between patrons and the organization becomes evident.

Even today Valsamma is serving her community as an Executive Committee member and has immersed herself in various informal ways to stay engaged with it. That gives her a platform to meet new people, to build friendships, and above all to provide motherly support to many others. Today the KANE family has grown multifold. She acknowledges that the younger generation is very talented and believes that the organization is still serving its purpose. She thinks that people of her generation can and should function as a bridge between two cultures that the younger generations of Indians are trying to navigate through. Valsamma has experienced the benefits of doing things together, the extra support and sense of belonging one gets from within an organization. And now once again, she is busy offering that comfort zone to others. In turn, she gets more energized.

We wish to applaud Valsamma Vargise for her keen understanding and commitment!