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Sikh Curriculum Spreads From Maryland to Virginia

Author: Anju Kaur

Source: SikhNN

School-Approved Resources Make Vaisakhi Outreach Easier for Parents

Nanaki, 4, often munched on goldfish crackers as she sat with her parents in meeting after meeting with Loudon County public schools officials. She and her brother, Divjot, 9, were real examples of Sikh kids that helped educators visualize the need for teaching Sikh culture to mainstream students. 

It took about two years, but the effort paid off last month when the county sent the Kaur Foundation’s ‘Cultural Safari’ video and resource guides to all of its 55 elementary school libraries. 

“The Kaur Foundation provided materials and resources, which was sent out to all the (elementary school) libraries,” said William Brazier, the county’s public schools supervisor for social sciences. Teachers have the option of working it into the curriculum, he said.

Brazier also sent an email to all elementary school social sciences teachers, in which he said that the foundation created and “excellent short DVD on what it means to be a member of the Sikh community and what some of the Sikh cultural practices look like and why the practices are carried out.”

Kaur Foundation Signs Educational Partnership With Maryland Public School System

Author: Staff Writer

Source: SikhNet

A pioneering partnership with the Kaur Foundation will build understanding and appreciation for the Sikh culture, customs, and perspectives in Howard County Public School classrooms and communities. The partnership was formalized with an official signing at the Waterside Restaurant in the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel on Monday.

This is a proud and pioneering partnership with an entire County school district. The agreement drawn up has some wonderful new direction for the schools with the objective of exchanging resources and opportunities to spread awareness of the customs, religion, and cultural heritage of the Sikhs in the classrooms… including an understanding of “what teachers should know about the Sikhs…”

Under the terms of the partnership, the Kaur Foundation and the Howard County Public School System will exchange resources and opportunities to spread awareness of the Sikh cultural heritage in the classroom and community. The Kaur Foundation donated copies of their DVD titled Cultural Safari, an engaging introduction to Sikh culture, to each school media center. The Kaur Foundation will provide additional educational resources depicting Sikh customs, religion, geography, and history, for teachers to augment social studies lessons, and to serve as a resource for staff regarding the needs and concerns of students and families of Sikh heritage.

Sikh Culture In Maryland School Curriculum

Author: Anju Kaur

Source: SikhNN

A teaching package on Sikh culture, which was part of the social studies curriculum this year in eight elementary schools in Howard County, Maryland, will be incorporated into all of the county’s approximately 39 elementary schools in the next school year, a county education-official said.

Kaur Foundation’s Cultural Safari video and resource package, which was released in June 2008, was incorporated into the social studies curriculum by fall and is being used in the county’s eight pilot-schools.

Teaching packages normally end up sitting on the shelf because teachers just don’t have time to squeeze in additional lessons. It is only when new material is approved and incorporated into the curriculum that students see it in the classroom.

“I’m very happy to (say) teachers are using this resource,” said Florence Hu, principle of Centennial Lane Elementary, one of the pilot schools where Cultural Safari is being tested. “It shows the importance of diversity and of being respectful of other cultures.”

Howard County has a large minority population. About 30 percent of its students come from Asian countries, Hu said. “I really think the success of making sure that our school is a safe place is to be proactive of different cultures and to learn (about them) before they come (here).”

Maryland County Expands Sikh Education

Author: Anju Kaur

Source: SikhNN

Bullying. Sikh parents worry about this every school year. Many try to talk to their children’s teachers and peers about their heritage and identity in hopes of raising tolerance and acceptance. But it is not an easy task. 

Ravinder Kaur Birgi, of Howard County, has a son in elementary school and a son in middle school. When they were in preschool, it was easy to just go in and talk to their class. She especially liked to take along a vaja and tabla for them to play shabads. It has been more difficult to do this in the public schools.

She has not been able to visit any of her 8-year-old son, Jay’s, classes because the principal won’t agree to it. But she does what she can. She is allowed to talk to the staff about the kesh and patka.

“It’s like a ceremony in the main office,” she said. They learn how to tie a patka on Jay in case it comes undone. 

Outreach becomes more difficult as kids move on to higher grades. Her 13-year-old son, Veer, is in middle school with many more classes and teachers. It is impossible to reach everyone that interacts with him.

Education is an uphill battle for parents. The only way students at all grade levels can learn about Sikhs, or any other topic, is if information is imbedded into the lesson plans, educators said.

Punjabi Village In US All Set for Annual Sikh Parade

Author: Staff Writer

Source: SamayLive.Com

Yuba City, known as the first Punjabi village in the US, is all set for the annual Sikh Parade next week.

Home to the descendants of the earliest Indian immigrants to the US, Yuba City, near the California capital of Sacramento, is famous for its annual Sikh Parade. Over 75,000 Sikhs from around the world are expected to attend the 30th anniversary of the parade next week.

The parade is organized to mark the day of the installation of the Sikh scripture of the Guru Granth. The festivities will begin Friday (Oct 30) with the start of the non-stop recitation of the holy book at the city’s main Sikh Temple in the morning. The evening will end with a spectacular display of fireworks to be attended by main leaders of the city.

“It is the Sikh way of saying thank-you to the local community,” said Balraj Singh Dhillon, president of the Sikh Temple. 

Islamic Influence Grows In Europe, Along With Tensions

Author: Shelley Emling

Source: Cox News Service

It’s just before lunchtime and a cadre of local women in body-covering garments are perusing a medley of halal markets filled with foods that comply with Islamic law.

The surrounding streets are decorated with special lights – funded by the Leicester City Council – to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid.

In all, there are more than 30 mosques nearby, as well as a public library boasting shelves of books in Punjabi, Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu, along with newspapers from across Asia and the Middle East.

The neighborhood Islamic schools receive state funding, just like Christian and Jewish ones.

This is Leicester, a former manufacturing city of 285,000 people in England’s heartland. It is home to large pockets of Sikhs, Hindus, Africans, and Muslims – indeed the latter makes up more than 15 percent of the population.

At least in one large Muslim neighborhood, called Highfields, there’s not a white English face to be found.

It’s not surprising. When the 2011 census is taken, Leicester is on track to become the first European city with a non-white majority.

“Cities from all over Europe are finding that they are becoming a lot more like Leicester,” said Mustafa Malik, chief executive of the Pakistan Center in the Highfields neighborhood. “We welcome people from all over the world and there is a lot of harmony here.

“Sure there are tensions, but there are tensions even in any household,” he said.

Depending upon whom one asks, the rise of Islam in Europe could either sound the death knell for institutional Christianity or act as a barricade against growing secularism.

No one knows for sure exactly how many Muslims reside in Europe today, partly because several European nations don’t count religion in the national census.

Most experts estimate there are between 15 million and 20 million Muslims, constituting the continent’s second-biggest religion, living among Western Europe’s predominantly Christian population of 400 million.

But an aging population has taken a toll on Christianity and today church attendance in many countries – including Britain – hovers at around 5 percent.

Without taking into account the possible admission of Turkey to the European Union, the number of Muslims is expected to grow to more than 40 million by 2050, representing about 15 percent of the population.

In the face of this growing Muslim population — fueled mostly by immigration but also by higher birth rates — tensions have arisen amid an anti-Muslim attitude that sprang up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and gained steam after the transit bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.

Festival for a Cause

Author: Staff Writer

Source: SikhNet/India Today

The Spinning Wheel Film Festival in Washington DC celebrated the stories of Sikhs worldwide on June 21, bringing diverse interpretations of their culture, identity and history to the screen.

The Sikh film festival is held annually by the Kaur Foundation to encourage Sikhs to share their thoughts and talent with the world.

One of the popular films screened was One Light, a film celebrating the oneness of people, directed by 14-year-old Angad Singh from Atlanta, Georgia.

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