A native of New Delhi, Anchal Sikka understands the changes that come with being an international student at a U.S. university.
The 22-year-old senior, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology with a concentration in neuroscience and a minor in chemistry at The University of Toledo, likens that transformation to that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
This literal metamorphosis served as a metaphorical one she conceived as a new mural hanging on the first floor of Snyder Memorial.
“Just as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly after it goes through all these difficulties but is still patient and ready to accept a change,” Sikka said. “The University of Toledo serves an important role in supporting the students through the hardships and different phases of their lives as they become a better version of themselves.
“For me, education played a key role in making decisions and gave me an opportunity to become a student here at The University of Toledo.”
Wanting to reflect the “vibrant culture” she sees throughout the campus, Sikka conceptualized a mural made of tiles with various elements to represent “different aspects of the society and point towards the idea of a global community where international education is valued and diversity is appreciated.”
While the mural is her creative vision, as inspired by artwork she found online, the work itself is a collaborative art project for International Education Week.
“We distributed 80 tiles,” she said. “The kit included paints, a unique tile that was numbered and a picture of the expected outcome of the mural. Each student did their part to complete the picture and it wouldn’t have been possible if all of us didn’t work together.
“The purpose was to recognize their efforts and to reiterate their significance in the completion of this project.”
Sara Clark, director of the Center for International Studies and Programs, said it was telling how these different artistic interpretations expressed in each tile was at once individualistic while also part of a cohesive whole.
“It resembles our international student body,” Clark said. “While we may have similar vantage points of the world around us, our culture and experiences impact our interpretations. This artwork is a beautiful display of our difference and our similarities.”
Sikka said she is grateful to Clark and to Xinren Yu, assistant director of CISP, for getting her involved in this project, and for the efforts of everyone who contributed to the mural.
“They say teamwork is the dream work and here I experienced it very closely,” she said. “I had an amazing experience being a part of this initiative and dedicate the success of this project to all those who participated.”
Clark added that she is grateful to Sikka for her efforts.
“Anchal is a student leader on our campus,” Clark said. “She shares her culture and experiences through numerous student organizations and she leads with passion and purpose.
“It has been a true pleasure to watch Anchal grow during her years at UToledo. I admire her willingness to get involved on campus, her desire to help new international students and her dedication to her studies. I am so proud to call her an International Rocket.”