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.
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
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.
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
'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
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.
When it comes to doing Seva, my only experience has come from helping my mom in the kitchen for Langars. Being able to reach out to our youth while helping them understand the events that took place in 1984 was an enlightening experience. The day started early where we got the kids T-shirt’s, nametags and gave them an opportunity to wake up with recess. We then split up the kids by age considering the graphic nature of what took place. Gagan, Gurneel and I took a group of older kids and did a quick shabad activity where they had to interpret what the excerpt meant to them. We then read several pages from the publication, Kristallnacht. After lunch and an epic water balloon fight, we had majority of the kids watch a movie on 1984 which was followed by a PowerPoint presentation. The day was filled with so many different emotions from elation to sadness. The most interesting part was to see how the kids felt and responded to specific stories and pictures of 1984. Personally, I learned and gained so much from this experience and look forward to working with Jakara to start a MISL chapter in the Stockton area. I appreciate all the other counselors for being so welcoming and being there for the kids. We must not forget our youth and help them on their path to righteousness. Andy Singh is an active member of Misl Sacramento and is helping start Misl Stockton.
I would not have the knowledge of my Sikh religion and Sikh history that I have today if it weren’t for the counselors at Jakara. I did not begin learning about Sikh history until I was old enough to fully comprehend the atrocities that occurred in 1984. Just as I was educated about Sikhi through my older sister and my counselors at Lalkaar, I believe it is my responsibility to educate the next generation. While leading a workshop with 6-7 year olds I heard many of them chanting “A Nation Never Forgets” as they were completing a coloring activity. I interrupted to ask them if they knew what exactly we are referring to when we say “A Nation Never Forgets.” The response I got was a room full of little children staring at me blankly, and a few children shaking their heads. I realized the kids hadn’t made the connection between what they were learning and with the slogan they were chanting. I proceeded to tell them what the statement on their shirts was referring to. I helped them understand that to forget is to give up your opportunity to learn from the powerful history we share because after all, knowledge is power. Remembering one’s history is the first step in expressing one’s agency in making change. Although many of the young children that attended Jakara Juniors could not fully grasp the severity of 1984, they are learning what it means when we say “A Nation Never Forgets, ” and what it is that we will never forget. Rather than blindly repeating a statement, they now have some idea of the concept of 1984. It is our responsibility to educate the next generation of our Sikh history, and the environment that Jakara provides with its kids camps makes it possible for us to reach the youth. Anjum Kaur is a freshman at San Jose State University studying Environmental Justice. She has been an active volunteer in the Bhujangan and Juniors programs at the Misl Bay level as well as a participant at Lalkaar since 2012.
I have been attending Jakara camps since the age of 9. Now being 17 and having the opportunity to become a counselor has allowed me to grasp the themes of our camps in an entirely different way. As a counselor I aim able to ensure every single kid goes home with enough knowledge to share with others as well as making it a priority that our campers leave with a sense of self-confidence, sangat, and fun. My first experience as a counselor has opened my eyes to truly see the importance of these camps held for the kids. Some walk in without any background knowledge of the theme, and being able to fill their minds with stories, shabads, and details of what is being taught is something I am extremely fortunate to have accomplished.Overall, this experience is one I truly cherish and certainly will continue doing as the years go on. Being a member of the Jakara movement has expanded the way I communicate with people, has immensely improved my social skills, and has made me an even more committed Sikh.Isherpreet Kaur is a member of Misl Sacramento and has been part of the Jakara family for many years.
The second time I participated in feeding the homeless I got to learn things and participate in a type of seva I really wanted to for quite some time. The first time I did this in September it was more of a project and a new learning experience in which we got to explore. We had to know what we were doing and explain it to other members in the community to raise awareness for the sacha sauda meal and collecting clothes. This Sunday afternoon all volunteers gathered at the West Sacramento Gurdwara to prepare a complete meal to serve to homeless people in downtown. I was very excited to do this because the first time I did this, it felt great and inspired me to do more. At the Gurdwara we all split up for different tasks such as making salad, cutting fruit, and cooking pasta. After the meal was prepared, we took it to Downtown. As we got there, this lady who was sleeping on the sidewalk, jumped up and said “ you guys the food people?” Seeing that excitement on her familiar face felt very heart warming. She was also wearing the clothes/ suits we donated last time we went. We first set up a table and served there. We all stood in a line serving them from hand sanitizer to food. We then walked around the area to, to look out for more people. I got to see where they slept and the conditions they lived throughout. They all were very thankful even if it was just one meal. It felt sad seeing them this way, but it felt to me as If I really cared, and that we should do this more often. Each time I feel we can make a small difference even though it’s not everything but it is something. Seeing the happiness on their face was a feeling that I personally felt couldn’t be felt in any corner of the world I went to. This experience might not seem that big but it made me think back to the basics of a real normal life, and how in life today we find happiness in materialistic things instead of through other people and being thankful for what we have. Jit Kaur is a junior at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep High School in Sacramento. She is an active member of both the Sikh Honor and Service Society and Misl Sacramento.