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International Studies - Donor Spotlight

Dr. Subhash Jani and Family at Endownment Agreement Signing.In appreciation of the campus and community, Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus Dr. Subhash Jani and his family have established an endowment with the WIU Foundation to support the Jani Annual International Home (JAIHO) Students Sports Event. Jani, his wife, Linda, daughters Jayshree and Shanti, son-in-law Xevi and granddaughter Aasha, together signed the endowment agreement Aug. 10, 2011 with Western President Jack Thomas.

The annual event is intended to provide a sports venue to promote international awareness and understanding between Western Illinois University and Macomb High School students, and to engage the community at large. Participants will come from the local and international communities of both WIU and MHS, including those with special needs or disabilities. Western's Center for International Studies (CIS) will oversee the event, which will alternate between a U.S. and international sport or game, either indoors or outdoors, for the annual focus: kite flying, baseball, cricket, golf, carrom, hoover ball, basketball, etc.

JAIHO is Hindi for "May Victory Prevail," and the title of the Academy Award winning theme song from the 2008 film "Slumdog Millionaire." The Jani family felt it was an appropriate term for the sentiment of the event.

"The International Home Students Sports Event is the Jani family's token of appreciation for the many gestures of friendship and memories that the town and gown members have provided us, especially during the time our children were in the Macomb schools," said Subhash.

"The community has been very good to us," Linda added. "Our children gained so much from their sports experiences, so we hope that this activity will foster lasting friendships and leave participants with the memory of the richness of our global cultures."

Subhash and Linda, together with their grown children, Shanti, Krishna, Jayshree and Raam, wanted to develop a program with enduring value that would incorporate their backgrounds, pay tribute to what made their family better citizens, promote town/gown cohesion, while "making our town a better place." The entire family favored the idea of fostering "collaborative competitiveness," something they all experienced and benefitted from.

"I was born in India, lived in Tanzania and educated in England before coming to the United States," said Subhash. "I came to the USA with a total of $600 in graduate assistantship funds for nine months, and the sacrifice and empowerment of my parents. I was a beneficiary of the caste system and experienced the negativity of segregation. Sports are a great unifier to the paths of justice."

"A sporting event blends our areas of interest," Linda continued. "Our children gained so much from participating in team sports growing up, where there was certainly competitiveness, but team spirit was such a big part of the experience. We like the focus on inclusion."

Subhash and Linda met at an international dinner while they both were at Purdue University. Linda had served in Vietnam with Catholic Relief Services, and both were interested in international and cross-cultural opportunities for others. They came to Macomb in 1971. Subhash was a member of the Department of Special Education faculty, served as secretary of the Faculty Senate and as UPI chapter president before retiring in 2000. He is also a freelance optometrist. Linda is a member of the McDonough County Board, and has been active in the schools and community; she is retired from teaching at Spoon River College.

"The JAIHO Sports Event is a great addition to the programming that the Center for International Studies offers. We are excited that this event will connect our students to young people in the community," said Rick Carter, director of the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach.

"The University community is grateful for the Janis' generosity and creativity," said Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter. "The campus and community have been strengthened through the years by the Jani family's interest and involvement, and this endowment will carry that influence into perpetuity."

The inaugural Jani International Sports Event, which will focus on the sport of cricket, will be held Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Vince Grady Field on the campus of Western Illinois University.