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AKKA WKC 2014 Young Professionals Program

Since its first world conference in Houston in 2000, AKKA has focused on producing biennial conferences with events, panels and forums related to entertainment, business and social engagement. These events have predominantly focused on first-generation Kannadiga Americans, a demographic disproportionately populated by older members of our community. At the same time, the conferences have often featured opportunities for youth to learn more about the language, culture, traditions and customs associated with Karnataka. What has been missing from conferences is coverage of topics pertinent to young professionals (ages 22-40) in our community.

To address this gap, the 8th AKKA World Kannada Conference will host a Young Professionals Program (YPP), which will feature a series of panels focusing on topics like those below:

  • Achieving Success in Nontraditional Careers
    While Indian Americans, and especially Kannadiga Americans, are often found in career fields like engineering, computer science, finance and medicine, an increasing number of us are branching out into a more diverse array of professions. This panel will feature individuals who have pursued career opportunities in industries not typically known for high levels of representation of Indian Americans, including politics, journalism, education and entertainment. We will explore some of the challenges they faced and discuss how they surmounted obstacles, with a special emphasis on any guidance that might be relevant to recent graduates and those considering career transitions.

  • Exploring Media Representation of Indian Americans
    Many of us were raised on television and film depictions of our community that included caricatures like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons and Fisher Stevens’ brownface portrayal of inventor Ben Jahvri in Short Circuit. These cartoonish representations of Indian Americans and the negative stereotypes they reinforced shaped the perceptions other Americans held of our community members and impacted our identity formation during adolescence.

    Over the course of the past ten years, the community has witnessed a dramatic reversal of fortune in Hollywood, as actors Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Naveen Andrews and others play leading roles in popular productions. Has the Indian American community “arrived” in Hollywood? What areas of progress are left? More fundamentally, why should we care about how Indian Americans are portrayed in the media?

  • Going “Back” to India: Recollections from Repats
    Since the turn of the century, second-generation Indian Americans have been moving to India with increasing frequency. Labeled with the moniker “repat,” a portmanteau of “returning” and “expat,” this group of young Indian Americans—many Kannadigas among them—have been moving from North America to India to pursue career opportunities, build language skills, learn about their cultural heritage and develop stronger relationships with extended family members. What political, social and economic implications will this trend have? What are practical considerations that young Kannadiga Americans should take into account as they decide whether to make the move?