Over the past year, the Sikh Coalition has been traveling throughout California’s Central Valley to provide Sikh Awareness presentations. With close to 20 Gurdwaras in the region, the Central Valley is home to a large and diverse Sikh community. Although Sikhs have been in the Central Valley for over 100 years, there is still work to be done to provide awareness about the community and our identity. Here we highlight some of our work in the region.
In April, local community members asked the Sikh Coalition to provide a Sikh Awareness presentation to students at Fresno City College. Advocacy Manager, Simran Kaur, presented to 75 students for the annual Sikhism lecture in celebration of Asian American Month. After the recent hate crime in Fresno, California, family members of Piara Singh asked the Sikh Coalition to conduct presentations at local schools to increase awareness about Sikhs in the area. In May, over the span of three days, our Advocacy Manager, Simran Kaur, provided presentations to almost 300 students at Selma High School. This outreach was covered by local media.
Last November, the Sikh Coalition participated in the Sikh Council of Central California’s educational seminar in Selma. Presenters included State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, Assembly Member Henry Perea and Mayor of San Joaquin Amarpreet Dhaliwal among others. Sikh Coalition Presenter Nirvair Singh provided a presentation on Sikh Awareness to attendees. Advocacy Manager Simran Kaur presented statistics about how Sikh American children are impacted by bullying and what educators can do to address the problem. In March, the Sikh Coalition organized a visit to the Selma Gurdwara for 50 students and educators from Fresno Pacific University. The guests were provided Langar and then presented information about the Sikh faith. A discussion followed where students asked questions about various aspects of the religion and identity. In April, an additional group of 50 students from the University attended the Selma Nagar Kirtan where the Sikh Coalition was asked to present information about Sikhs.
Last November, the Sikh Coalition provided Sikh Awareness presentations to around 200 students at Livingston Middle School-a district with a large Sikh population. Following this presentation, the Sikh Coalition received 77 letters from students who shared what they had learned in the presentation.
In February, the Sikh Coalition was invited to conduct Sikh Awareness presentations to over 1000 students at Fowler Unified School District. Presentations were given to 3rd through 8th grade students and their educators. The presentation was followed by a turban-tying demonstration and a question-and-answer session.
In March, the Sikh Coalition was invited to present at the K-12 Principal’s Meeting. Approximately 50 educators attended this meeting and noted how helpful the information was for engaging with many Sikh students in their district.
We would like to thank the Sikh Council of Central California, the Jakara Movement, Selma Gurdwara Committee, Superintendent Andres Zamora, Superintendent Eric Cederquist, Principal Mark Babiarz, Harinder Grewal, Herman Sihota and Inderjit Boparai for helping to identify the need and for their support in organizing these presentations.