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The Sikh Coalition News
December 30, 2012
  • Promoting Civil Rights Nationwide: Meet the Sikh Coalition Advocates

    December 30, 2012 (Washington, DC) – When the Sikh Coalition launched its Advocate Academy in June 2011, the idea was to train community volunteers to utilize the same techniques used by the Sikh Coalition to achieve social justice.

    The results have been remarkable. Last year, the Sikh Coalition Advocates organized grassroots surveys to help address school bullying in Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. This year, in the aftermath of the Oak Creek tragedy, the Sikh Coalition Advocates were featured in over 25 media articles nationwide, creating Sikh awareness and appreciation among thousands of Americans.

    Overall, the Sikh Coalition Advocates have recorded over 250 actions in support of civil rights during the last 18 months. The Sikh Coalition is grateful to them for their leadership. If you support initiatives like the Sikh Advocate Academy, please support the Sikh Coalition.

    Meet Our Advocates
    Deepak Ahluwalia, Class of 2012 (Texas)
    “My experience with the Sikh Coalition can be summed up with this quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead

    Saranjit Kaur Banga, Class of 2011 (California)
    “The Sikh Advocate Academy has been a life-changing experience for me. I attended the academy a few days after graduating from college and since then I've had the opportunity to engage in some memorable projects that I will never forget. The trainings and overall support provided by The Sikh Coalition staff have given me the leadership and professional skills needed to succeed in all areas of life.”

    Alex DiBlasi, Class of 2012 (New York)
    "I applied to the Sikh Advocate Academy because I care deeply about social justice and civil rights for everyone, and because the Sikh community is the warmest, friendliest, and happiest group of people I have encountered in my experiences. I love knowing that I have helped raise awareness of the Sikh community in the United States, helping to put an end to ignorance and intolerance."

    Harjit Kaur Grewal, Class of 2012 (California)
    “The Sikh Coalition Advocate Academy was a truly inspiring experience. The advocacy skills I learned at the academy helped me make a greater impact on the local community in Sacramento and empowered me to host the first, of many, "Women of the World" panels at the West Sacramento Sikh Temple, a panel of strong female women speaking about their Sikh experiences.”

    Arvinder Kang, Class of 2011 (Mississippi)
    "Before attending the inaugural Sikh Advocate Academy and rubbing shoulders with some very smart young Sikhs defining the direction of Sikh civil rights and advocacy in North America, never had I thought that in one year I would be able to convince a congressman in Mississippi to sign a letter to the FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs, mobilize and garner love from Sangat of three cities in two states, be invited to White House and make life long friends who share similar concerns."

    Harleen Kaur, Class of 2012 (Michigan)
    “Through the Sikh Advocate Academy, I not only learned skills that were applicable in Washington DC, but also as a student at the University of Michigan and as I work with the Sikh communities around me. By networking with similar interest communities, I have been focusing on increasing awareness of the large Sikh population in the metro Detroit area.”

    Harmeet Kaur, Class of 2011 (Texas)
    “My experience with the Sikh Advocate Academy has made me thrive and prosper as an individual in a way I cannot even begin to explain. I have a newfound pride for my religion and have discovered an amazing avenue (SSA) to utilize my background and skills. I have been excited since the first time I learned about the Sikh Advocate Academy two years ago and remain excited about the Academy today.”

    Meeta Kaur, Class of 2011 (California)
    “I am thankful for the Sikh Advocate Academy's real world classroom equipped with passionate teachers, creative learning, eye-opening challenges, and genuine friendships. The advocacy projects helped me find my courage and for that, I am grateful.”

    Simranjit Kaur, Class of 2012 (California)
    "By cultivating critical advocacy skills, the Academy emboldens activists to inform public policy and invoke institutional change. I'm deeply honored to be part of a revolutionary organization which redefines American civil liberties to reflect the interests of the Sikh community and other marginalized peoples."

    Sahaj Singh Khalsa, Class of 2012 (New Mexico)
    “The Sikh Advocate Academy was an excellent experience that showed me how one individual can have an impact with the right training, tools and knowledge. Using the skills learned at the Academy, I have been able to raise awareness of religious freedom issues in my local community.”

    Ranjanpreet Nagra, Class of 2012 (California)
    "The workshops taught me how to approach the media and I learned how to approach them with Sikh issues. I learned quite a bit and it was empowering."

    Charanpreet Singh, Class of 2011 (Maryland)
    "Grassroots development I think is essential for progress. I feel that this Academy is about that and those are the skills that we have learned."

    Gurwinder Singh, Class of 2011 (New York)
    “I applied to the Sikh Advocate Academy in 2011. It's one of the most important decisions I have ever made. Being an advocate gave me an opportunity to be in the shoes of some of the most amazing Sikh leaders. It has been truly an inspiring and motivating journey".

    Kaviraj Singh, Class of 2011 (Massachusetts)
    “The Sikh Coalition Advocate Academy is a great venue for us to work with media, government and the community to make our voices heard. Due to the tragic events that happened in Oak Creek earlier this year, the Sikh Community has been in the spotlight and the training we have received and the support of the Sikh Coalition has enabled us to make clear, concise and correct statements regarding the Sikh community and issues they face.”

    Monica K. Singh, Class of 2011 (Texas)
    “The Sikh Advocate Academy propelled my passion to the next level. Their support and connections have helped me pay back the community that is raising me.”

    Poonam Singh, Class of 2012 (New York)
    "The Sikh Advocate Academy gave us the most amazing opportunity to learn about... how to deliver more to the community."

    Winty Singh, Class of 2012 (California)
    "Being a graduate of the Sikh Coalition Advocate Academy has been inspiring and empowering. The program has given me the skills, resources, and a network of advocates to work with so that I can help represent our community locally and beyond."

    Jusleen Sodhiwal, Class of 2012 (Ohio)
    “Being in the company of those involved with the Advocate Academy was a truly fulfilling and inspiring experience. Fighting for the justice of all with complete heart and dedication is the name of the game, and we are in it to win.”

    Parwaz Sra, Class of 2012 (California)
    "Prior to coming to the Academy there was a sense of helplessness I felt because I didn't know how to help my community and how to direct all this energy and passion I have for civil rights... I think the Academy really gives you the power and training to help the community."

    Manpreet Teji, Class of 2011 (Illinois)
    “My Capitol Hill experience was beyond what I expected. I never thought being able to walk up to my Congressional offices and talking to Congressional staff about an important issue would be this easy. Building a strong alliance for the meeting was extremely necessary, as it helped convey the bill through different viewpoints for the same cause. As nervous as I was, it was equally rewarding to know I utilized my resources and did my duty as a constituent to engage with my elected officials.”

    Shawn Tucker, Class of 2012 (Georgia)
    “The Advocate Academy taught me how easy it is to make a difference. They helped me understand how to utilize my skills to help communities and create change you can see. What the Academy also did was provide me with a network of very passionate and capable individuals, which is incredibly valuable. The Sikh Coalition Staff and Advocates together have positively impacted so many communities around this country. It truly is incredible what can be done with the right people and the right training.”

    Lori Way, Class of 2012 (Indiana)
    "The Sikh Advocate Academy has allowed me to develop skills that I never thought I would have... [Before] I have never had the opportunity to meet with the office of a congress member... Coming to Washington, D.C. and being able to participate in the process is something that is very important..."

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