More Than A Conference Lalkaar-NY 2013

Lalkaar_NY_2013_1003.JPGWhen I first learned of Lalkaar,  I thought it was going to be just like the other camps I attended in the past, where I was one of the only individuals with my hair cut and I wasn't going to connect that well because my Punjabi isn't the best. However, the fact that it wasn't going to be uncle-auntie dominated and we were going to discuss "the topics that we can't discuss anywhere else" really attracted me so I decided to give it a try. When I arrived, there wasn't mama's roti and aloo gobi to greet me. However, the experience was salvaged because I almost immediately made some friends over lunch. I continued to do so throughout the weekend, as the other participants and I took part in discussions and activities.

One of my favorite parts of the retreat was open mic night on Saturday. I was amazed by the amount of awe inspiring talent among just the eighty or so of us there. Also, I greatly enjoyed how welcoming the atmosphere was to individuals who may have been shyer in a different setting. As an audience, we responded to each performance with formidable  applause.

The entire weekend was filled with a tremendous balance of diwan, workshops, and outdoor activities. I really appreciated the fact that we were able to present what we developed in our workshops, rather than have our thoughts applied to a poster board and then thrown away two days later.

One of the best things about Lalkaar was that nobody was there just for the conference. They were there to learn as much as they could, engage in discussions, and most importantly, make lifelong friends. Almost immediately after leaving the campsite, I was bombarded with Facebook requests and sent out a bunch of my own. Everybody seemed to connect really well even though it was just a weekend conference.

Overall, the Lalkaar experience has made me excited to build up our own DMV Misl and host our own array of events, hopefully culminating with the inception of our own Lalkaar DMV one day!

-Amolak Kahlon

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