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.