“Kaur Voices” took place on Feb 21 at the UC Berkeley campus. For some performers, the night was a quantum leap - the start of a burgeoning relationship with artistry, the end to their silence. For others, the stage was a regularity - another story in a book, another opportunity to grasp. But whether the performers were new or experienced, Singhs or Kaurs, poets/poetesses or artists, the third annual “Kaur Voices” (organized by UC Berkeley’s SSA) culminated into, what can safely be said as, a night of ten powerful performances about topics that desperately needed to be discussed amongst the Punjabi, Sikh diaspora. The underlying theme of the event, “The Talk We Never Had,” was reflected in thought-provoking pieces about feminism, self-love, identity, female infanticide, Sikhi, and other personal stories that resonated with an audience of about 75 people. “Kaur Voices” was not limited to any age, gender, or ethnicity. Students from high school and college were welcomed to join as performers or audience members. These conversation-starting events are deeply important because they provide a platform for critical thinking, healthy discourse, and positive development. Navya Kaur is a high school junior, a rising journalist, and the first high school performer at Kaur Voices!
On February 26th 2015, I volunteered with the Sacramento Food Bank with CLF club members and Misl Sacramento. I personally helped placing two bundles of broccoli in a bag to be distributed to the residents of North Highlands. I observed, it was very organized which makes it easier to pass out vegetables/fruits to people. After getting done with packing broccoli, I helped filling front tables with vegetables/fruits as labeled. Also, I helped people get boxes, who were having hard time caring their food as there were no grocery carts or baskets as there are in a grocery store. It was a very busy but fun experience. I learned how we can make some changes to do our Sacha Sauda Seva in a more organized way. Karanpreet is a junior at NP3 High and an active member of Misl Sacramento.
My experience doing the Misl Bay Area Sacha Sauda was really nice as it allowed me to help people who need it. Providing the people who need food to eat with a meal was really meaningful. Everyone needs food to survive so I think this event is a really nice thing to do. Young teens like me can learn from this and keep doing this in the future because whatever you give comes back to you at some point. Akashpreet is a member of Misl Bay Area and a student at James Logan High School in Union City.
This past Sunday Misl Minnesota celebrated International Women’s Day by hosting an event after langar called: Women Empowerment Day. During this event we celebrated the lives of Sikh Women in history who have really been a guiding force and inspiration throughout history. From Bibi Nanaki who encouraged young Nanak to pursue his lifelong mission to the 52 women missionaries who helped Guru Amar Das Ji spread Sikhi throughout the country. We also played the Sikhnet animated film called: KAUR which really inspired women from all ages to see the reality that we grow up with. We ended with a discussion of the film and also statistics of the harsh reality that shows us that the values of equality taught by our Guru’s have been drifting away. This was our first event where we posed this new dialogue to our sangat and so far have gotten positive feedback. We hope to have similar events like this to start changing the narrative of women in our community and broader community.
Before this event I couldn’t remember when was the last time I explored the exquisite beauty of the outdoors. Throughout the couple of hours we spent in the outdoors we did icebreakers, games and group activities. During the time, we were paired to play games and do group activities with people we didn’t know and by the end of the activities we all knew each other well. I love meeting new people, I love making new friends and I think you can never have too many friends. During this time, I created more friendships and it was a blessing to meet these incredible individual people that were apart of Misl Sacramento. I enjoyed meeting some of the kindest, funniest and coolest people. While we were at Peak Adventures, we were challenged to go through rope courses and rock climbing, some of us were great at doing it, while others with the support of their friends broke through the fears and faced their fear of heights. This team building event was a perfect balance of visual and hands on problem solving and creating a better relationship within Misl Sacramento. I loved this event because we as a Misl Sacramento become more of a family and it was great meeting new people and essentially creating more friendships. Karen Kaur is a senior in high school at Natomas Pathways Prep. She is an active member of Misl Sacramento and the Sikh Honors and Service Society
Jakara Movement hosts & sponsors a variety of events & one of them is Sikholars. Sikholars has the distinct honor of being the driving force in social impact & people empowerment. It presents at a pace as hundreds of sangat come together from all over the bay area, U.S & India. Guru Nanak Ji would be so proud. This year's Sikholars was jammed with the latest updates with hot topics range from Arts/ Media and Information Techology, Social Life of Sikhs to Guru Granth Sahib. This highly respected conference has been a beautiful gathering with a myriad of both experienced & novice presenters. This is where many issues & subjects are addressed as well as encourages sangat to bring in their own tastes & opinions on various discussions. At the conference, it doesn't mean you can't come here just to hang out with your fellow sangat. It is the kind of place where you will want to sit & listen for hours. This has been a real treat for me to attend the Sikholars conference. What a great place to start off the day. Even if you have no intention of coming, it's worth a peek to see what you may be learning. Winnie is a working professional in San Francisco and an active member of Misl Bay Area.
Nishaan was an incredible event for me, I learned so much about college and the steps I would need to take to get there. Going there, the idea of college frightened me I did not what to do, in order to get into college, I did not have a plan, I was confused, worried, and just lost. I did not know what I wanted to do after high school. Coming back after the weekend I was calm, motivated, and now had a basic idea of what my plans are for my future and I know knew which steps and what requirements I have to meet in order to get into college. It was a learning experience from every perspective, I got to meet new people, have wonderful discussions, and also met people who were in the same shoes as me, so they were able to relate to me. One thing that really helped was having great facilitators who were understanding, caring and they answered many question and if they couldn't answer my question they helped me find an answer. They also shared their experiences of how they got to where they were now, and each and every one of them had an interesting story and I was really able to see and make connections to their life stories. Nishaan had so much to offer to me, I met incredible people and made many new friends and had absolutely one of the most memorable weekends of my life, this one weekend changed my perspective, and I am totally grateful for all the people who made this event happen. Anmol is a junior at James Logan High School in Union City. He is a member of the Sikh Honors and Service Society and Misl Bay Area.
At the conclusion of the inaugural Nishaan high-school conference, everyone, including the facilitators, participants, and volunteers, partook in the “Appreciation Circle.” We stood side by side, with our eyes closed and our backs to the center. Each turn, a few individuals were chosen randomly out of the larger circle to tap the shoulders of the peers they felt embodied the phrases being read. Examples of the phrases were, “Tap the people who you feel have the qualities of a leader” or “Tap whoever has made you laugh this past weekend.” With our eyes shut and no hint of who was tapping our shoulders, we all stood, anxiously. This was my Nishaan. The lightest or heaviest of touch made the limited sleep, constant social interaction, and frustration worth it. Immediately, I felt relieved. Tears rushed down my face, and I rushed to wipe them. All emotions poured through me. Never would I have thought that I would become so close to a group of people so quickly. I stepped into the role of a facilitator fresh out of high school myself. I wondered how I was supposed to be a role model for 50 high school kids, when I continue to struggle to find myself everyday. Through Nishaan, I was able to develop leadership skills and build close bonds with my peers. Through workshops, career panels, and casual conversations over breaks, I witnessed the beauty in my surroundings. There was an eagerness to learn, everywhere, and in my eyes this was what made the weekend successful. I experienced people come out of their comfort zones and help others do the same, and through every single activity I couldn’t help but smile at everyone making their mark, their Nishaan. Damanjot Kaur is a first year student at UC Davis. A Southern California native, Daman is currently a member of Misl Sacramento.
Nishaan was an experience that I will never forget. When applying for Nishaan I was a bit nervous about spending four days with random people. Once the day came to leave it was frightening, but once we arrived and we started talking to the people at our table the nervousness just faded away. I had met many unique facilitators that attended colleges I was interested in, which was a great advantage. I asked many questions about the application process and how life at college is for them.The next day we had gone to UC Davis and were put into groups or families. We would be with our families all weekend. My family consisted of students that were a bit shy but with the help of our facilitators who were more open. In our families we also translated some lines of gurbani to help our understanding on what Guru Nanak Dev Ji was trying to say. After that we went back to the hotel and played some games then ate dinner. By the way, the food was delicious! The next day we had breakfast then did japji sahib and headed out to Davis with our car families. Basically we had a specific group of people who we would go place to place with. My group consisted of complete strangers. While talking for a while with these strangers I immediately realized they are also into the same things I am. Four new friends check! While at Davis we were introduced to a career panel. This specific group of people consisted of careers of all kinds. They were asked a series of questions and we were fortunate enough to hear their answers. After the questioning part was over we had an opportunity to ask any questions we had for the panel. There were many interesting questions asked that even I didn’t think of. My favorite part of whole weekend was bowling! It was so much fun bowling even though I had lost. By the time the weekend was over I didn't want to leave. I had grown so close to my new friends and I was not ready to say goodbye. Now the wait begins for the next Nishaan conference! Amarveer is a student at Livingston High School and has previously been a part of Jakara Juniors.
The Nishaan conference of 2015 was an absolutely unforgettable weekend that helped me to appreciate the true power of our community. The amount of inspiration packed into one weekend was outstanding! I felt such a strong sense of sangat and family. Nishaan gave me the comfort and confidence I needed as a high school senior going into college. I was definitely hesitant and unsure of how my experience would be at this conference. But by the end of a few short days, like every Jakara event, I did not want to leave. Nishaan was beyond fun. I created so many memories that I still reflect on, I made new friends that I get academic advice from, and I developed more confidence to enter college, knowing that I have such inspiring mentors.In school we're often told that in order to achieve, we need to take the SAT/ACT, take AP classes and apply for college senior year. We never hear of real life experiences or have any insight into what non-traditional paths to success might look like. Sure, we all plan to be successful at a university, but what do we need to know in order to get there, and thrive? That's where Nishaan stepped in with qualified college-going mentors and amazing role models. I feel as if I speak on behalf of every student, whether one is a freshman or a senior: we know what it takes to make the most of our collegiate careers and we have the resources to aid us in earning a degree.I cannot wait to be a volunteer next year and help inspire future college students and share my first year college experience with my sangat. Isherpreet (Ishi) is a senior in high school and an active member of Misl Sacramento. Ishi began participating in Jakara Juniors a number of years ago and has now become a counselor at the same camps.