Dayton, Ohio, October 3, 2022 (Yes Punjab News)
The Wright State University Center for International Education (UCIE) in Dayton, Ohio, offers various programs to facilitate intermingling, mutual understanding of students of American and foreign origin, and share experiences about different cultures. To raise awareness about the Sikhs and Sikh identity, ‘Sikhs in America & at WSU’ event was held at the University. The event was organized in collaboration between the Sikh students and alumni, and the University Center of International Education.
Dr. Kuldip Singh Rattan, Professor since 1979 at the University in his opening remarks welcomed the guests, and provided the reason for holding such events. He mentioned that after 9/11, every channel flashed pictures of Osama bin Laden sporting turban. Rattan said that due to this, people’s perspective about us changed a bit after 9/11. We lost few Sikhs including Balbir Singh Sodhi in Arizona, due to hate crime as common people were not aware about the Sikhs. This is the reason why it has become very important to create awareness about Sikhs.
Sameep Singh Gumtala, an alumni of WSU did the presentation about Sikhs using videos and slides. He shared information about the Guru Granth Sahib, the 10 Gurus (or spiritual masters) and five articles of faith, or ‘5 Ks’ (Kes, Kanga, Kara, Kirpan and Kachera), introduction to the historical background of the Sikhs including the arrival of Sikhs in America, followed by a question-and-answer session.
Gumtala shared his experience from the time of his arrival in the USA in August 2000 and how situation changed after 9/11 for the Sikh students, when for many days our parents back home were concerned about our safety. It became very important to hold such events to share experiences about different cultures on campus and within our community, said Gumtala.
It was a very informative, though informal session and the audience, comprising of students from different cultural backgrounds, participated enthusiastically and asked many interesting questions, said Harroop Singh and Harshdeep Singh, Masters students at the University. Harshdeep thanked the guests, staff members, other student organizations at the University and UCIE for help in organizing this event. Harroop added, “this event provided a great opportunity for our campus community to come together, know more about Sikhism, bridge the gap about understanding and celebrate the rich diversity of our community.”
Attendees experienced turban tying, punjabi food and also got a chance to talk with Dayton Sikh community members. Guests were fascinated with their personality after wearing the turban, asked many interesting questions about its significance, different colors and styles of turbans etc.
Michelle Streeter, Director UCIE said that the event was a success with American and international students attending it to learn more about Sikhs. They experienced turban tying and learned about the rich Sikh culture. She congratulated the Sikh students at WSU to organize the event in collaboration with UCIE.
In addition to exhibits on Dastaar, Langar, Mool Mantar, Three Pillars (Vand Chakna, Kirt Karni, Naam Japo), books related to Sikh history and tradition, Kare (bracelet), Kanga (wooden comb) were also displayed.