Nishaan 2015 | Strangers to Friends

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. 

Nishaan 2015 | Power of Community

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.

Dhol 101 and Bhagat Puran Singh

We had a wonderful turnout our events this past weekend.  On Friday evening, we hosted a movie night on the life of Bhagat Puran Singh.  While there is renewed interest in this blessed soul, who founded Pingalwara, due to the upcoming release of the new Punjabi film, Eh Janam Tumare Lekhe, we wanted to feature a documentary on his life so people could learn and share about his actual life.  More than 20 people joined us on Friday night, for an evening of family, discussion, community, and even popcorn.  We will be showing another documentary next month on the health system in the United States and hope you will join us.   Read more

February 2015 Events at Paaras Sikh Youth Center

We have an exciting array of things happening at the Paaras Youth Center.  Nearly every weekend, we have thought-provoking programs for you and and the entire family.  Join us and enrich your family, enrich your community, and enrich yourself! Bhagat Puran Singh Movie Night 7-9pm on 2/20/15 for Movie Night – Before you see Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe (or after!), bring the family for a discussion and documentary on the true life of Bhagat Puran Singh of Pingalwara - join us Friday evening.  We'll bring the popcorn and soda/water.  You bring your excitement and ideas.  RSVP here for more details and hope you'll join us! Read more

A breath of fresh air...

During the Nishaan 2015 high school conference, I had the wonderful pleasure of serving on a team of excellent facilitators as well as being a guest speaker for a career panel. As facilitators, we had the opportunity to understand the pressures most of the participants may be facing as they approach college. We also were able to guide them in taking steps to minimize the stresses they may face while going through the transition from high school to college so that they can mainly stay focused on being a good student. I was impressed with how engaged participants were in interpreting Gurbani and being able to make the meaning of scripture as personal as they can for themselves. This helped the participants let go of the idea that the scripture can’t be ambiguous. During the career panel, I was able to speak about my experience transitioning from the military to community college and give the participants guidance on transferring to a four-year institute. Participants had the opportunity to ask a variety of questions to the diverse group of panelists, as well. I would describe the entire weekend as a breath of fresh air. It was amazing to see how engaged and determined some of the participants are. It was also nice to see them approach the facilitators with such eager and inquisitive attitudes. -Navpreet Sandher is from Merced, CA, a USMC Vet, yoga/grup fitness instructor, studying kinesiology, and a Bhujangi Youth Academy volunteer.

We Have a Dream - 2015

Thirty years ago, a few brave Singhs and Kaurs stood before the might of the 3rd largest army in the world and in defense of our beloved Darbar Sahib said – “let them come.”  Their stand came as a great beacon of inspiration to millions of Sikhs throughout the world who stood as witnesses to this injustice.  While three decades has past, the Sikh still yearns for justice.  While guns have been placed in holsters, the weapon of the mind is our real tool.  On the eve of 2015, we stand with the great challenge that laid before our foremothers and forefathers of the Singh and Bhujangan (Kaur) Sabhas of the early 20th century. How do we transform our nation through a commitment to justice, seva, and new forms of social mobilization? Read more

This Is Just the Beginning | Sacha Sauda Meal Sharing

I had an amazing time helping out at the Sacha Sauda meal sharing last weekend, where we distributed hygiene packages and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the houseless in Downtown. It was such a great learning experience for me because it taught me how to work on a team and be committed to what I was doing. With the help of a group of students we organized a hygiene drive at our high school, NP3. We also sold donuts at school to help fundraise for this drive. It was difficult in the beginning to spread awareness of why we were doing this drive and what the cause was. It was a challenge to get all the students to participate at school so we decided to do a competition between classes to make it more exciting and get more people to participate. This hygiene drive lasted for 3 weeks at school and we ended up collected around 1,300 items, which was a big deal because we all worked so hard from setting up the boxes to organizing the sales. After we had the items we decided to have a Sacha Sauda Meal Sharing and go out in downtown to distribute the hygiene packs along with the sandwiches. We prepared the food at West Sacramento Gurdwara on Sunday around 2pm, and then went to Downtown to give it out to people. It was such a great feeling to hand out the stuff to all the people and seeing them happy to get their basic needs of living. The people there were so nice and they all thanked us for coming out in such cold weather and helping them out. After seeing the lives of the houseless, it motivates me to do more and helps me realize how fortunate I am to have these little opportunities in my life to help others. I have always wanted to do something for my community and I am always looking for a big opportunity. Working with Jakara has made me realize that these little things are just a start and I have so much more to offer to my community. I cannot wait to organize another one of these events and work together with these amazing people in the organization. Gagan Kaur is a junior at NP3 Charter High School in Sacramento. She is also a member of the Sikh Honor and Service Society and Misl Sacramento. 

Upcoming Lalkaar 2015

2014 was an amazing year.  Growth, expansion, and localization are all the keywords that are thrown around in end-of-the-year reports and other marketing flyers.  However, what was far more important for us than all of these buzz words was the process of ‘re-thinking a conversation.’  In 2014 the conversation was largely around our theme of “The Battle of Amritsar: Let them Come.”  No longer did we need to counter state propaganda nor use that propaganda to launch a counter-narrative.  Rather Sikh history and a reinterpretation of the details could lead to an apologetic claim of Sikh dignity and sovereignty that need not shirk from the details. Read more

Minnesota Nice

'You have a misl in Minnesota?'  Oh the countless times I've heard this when I talk about our misls.  My response?  'Yes! They are superstars!'.  Whether it was Ruppa never giving up (even when she was the only one in the misl), to Gurpreet asking for ways to diversify their projects, to Rajin asking for fundraising ideas, these individuals are dedicated, creative, and always up for a challenge. Today Misl Minnestoa has a council, regular events, and is working with other volunteers to host our first Lalkaar Midwest in Chicago (more details in the coming weeks)! Read more

Importance of Educating Our Youth

The Jakara Juniors Camp was an event full of activities, knowledge, and fun while the children learned about the events of June and October 1984. Much of the knowledge was spread through nursery rhymes, gurbani translations, videos, and rich conversations. At the camp the children learned mainly about the Human rights violations which occurred during the year of 1984, many of the children were able to grasp this knowledge through the various listed activities. The camp was extremely successful in terms of communicating the atrocities of 1984 to the children, their comments and questions reflected their understanding and interest in the topic. A child had asked me why the Indian government had hurt the Sikhs in 1984, answering this question would have took me a great amount of time. We were definitely constrained by time, but that is perfectly fine as the interest shown by the children will definitely influence them to research what happened during 1984 . Despite the fact we did not cover the points that caused 1984 as strongly as we could, I felt that we made it clear to the kids that the Indian Government had done something very horrid to the Sikh community. That the Sikhs felt, and today feel great amounts of anguish due to these events, something that was clearly perceived by the children at that day at the camp. I have strong hopes that these kids will try to go on to dig out a sense of peace in this topic that we scratched on that Saturday only to unravel the deeper and disgusting injustices preformed by the Indian government. Upon finding these injustices, I believe a sense of action towards justice will spur in these children and that what they will discover in their personal research will stick with them for the rest of their life, just as it did for me. Gurneel Singh is a junior at Franklin High School in Elk Grove, CA. He is an active member of Misl Sacramento and the Sikh Honor and Service Society.

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