On Friday, hundreds of Tamils arrived in New York for the 35th annual Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) summit. FeTNA is an umbrella organization of over sixty different member Tamil Sangams from across North America, which has been meeting annually since its inception in 1987.
The first day of the convention began with the Tamil Entrepreneurs Forum (TEFCON). The event featured addresses from prominent businessman and financial executives.Roy Ratnavel for instance, is an esteemed Tamil Canadian who fled torture and imprisonment in Sri Lanka, and has documented his extraordinary rags to riches story in a novel titled, Prisoner #1056: A Survivor's Story.
A diverse range of panels were facilitated through out the day, including: Women Empowerment Panel, Tamils as Job Creators, Employee to Entrepeneur, and Impact of Softpower in the Knowledge Economy.
A star-studded dinner gala followed TEFCON.
FeTNA honoured a number of accomplished Tamil women during the dinner gala.
Sapna Raghavan, former Miss. Connecticut, was the first-ever contestant to perform bharathanatyam during the talent portion of Miss America.
Selvanayaki Sridas holds a PhD in Tamil from Annamalai University and is currently lecturing BA and MA Tamil programs at Annamalai Canada Campus. Dr. Sridas was awarded a UN Fellowship to Harvard University to specialize in International Taxation. She has also published two books about Tamil.
Prominent figures in Tamil cinema were in attendance. Actor Napoleon, Director/Actor R. Parthiban, Actor Kathir, and Director/Actor R. Pandiyarajan honoured the award recipients on stage.
Actor Napoleon delivered a speech regarding the sanctity of the Tamil language. He spoke about his personal decision to mandate that his children only speak in Tamil at home. The actor encouraged other Tamil parents to follow suit, as means to ensure the preservation of the Tamil language.
As the event came to a close, attendees were given a chance to directly engage with the celebrities. Actor Kathir, who most recently starred in the critically acclaimed Amazon web series, Suzhal: The Vortex, took photos with attendees.
Follow Tamil Guardian's live coverage of the FeTNA summit on twitter.
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