Dear Supporter Ji,
My name is Yashpreet Singh Matharu. I’m one of the newest members of the Sikh Coalition’s staff--I joined the team as a Community Development Manager in August. I wanted to reach out and say hello--and explain why I’m thankful to be working at the Sikh Coalition and grateful for the sangat's investment.
Part of being new to the Sikh Coalition staff means joining critically important work that is already in process. One such project is the effort to push for Sikhi's inclusion in Virginia’s social studies standards--in other words, to make sure that Sikhi is taught to the state’s public schoolchildren alongside other world religions. The Sikh Coalition has been working with the sangat to engage Virginia authorities on this issue for nearly two years since the review first began.
Our persistent work is paying off: in July, the Virginia State Department of Education included Sikhi in their first draft of the History & Social Science Standards of Learning. However, being included in the first draft doesn’t mean you will be included in the final draft, and we knew we had to keep up the pressure.
When the state opened a public comment period this September, we helped more than 500 Virginia sevadaars submit messages in favor of Sikh inclusion. I traveled to three gurdwaras and worked with sangat members across the state to help them with their submissions. In the meantime, my other colleagues facilitated sign-on letters in support of the standards from seven Virginia gurdwaras, rallied Sikh community members to provide testimony at hearings, and pushed the Governor and State Superintendent to pay attention to our community voice.
We’re still working around the clock to ensure that the final draft in Virginia will accurately include Sikhi and there's much more work to be done. However, do you want to know the crazy part? This is just one state that we are doing this type of work in at the moment! Similar efforts remain ongoing across the nation.
This Thanksgiving, the Sikh Coalition remains deeply thankful for your continued support as we with sevadaars in all of these states to make our voices heard. We’ll be doing even more of this work in 2023 and beyond!
Our more than 10 years of work on state standards campaigns means that more than 45 million students across 14 states have the potential to learn about Sikhs and Sikhi. Together, we’ll continue to ensure that Sikhs are represented in these conversations--and therefore, in our nation’s classrooms, too.
I wish all the best to you and your family from now into the new year, and from all of us at the Sikh Coalition, thank you again.
Yashpreet Singh Matharu
Community Development Manager
The Sikh Coalition
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