There is something incredibly enthralling about our human capacity to connect, to love and to put a piece of our minds and hearts into something that is not ourselves. Look at a mother’s love; a teacher’s commitment or a musician’s devotion to their art.
On the weekend of the 16th/17th September, I spent the better part of 48 hours with a group of thirty-something young leaders intent on pouring themselves, wholly and without hesitation, into an organisation and vision that transcended their own.
The 2017 Young Sikh Professional Network’s Leadership Summit was more than a weekend of strategy and planning; it was proof of the power that a giving and committed collective wield – a fitting reminder of Margaret Mead’s insistence that we must never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and dedicated citizens can, indeed, change the world.
2017 has seen the birth of YSPN’s first international chapter; our entity is new with a membership that calls a sleepy cluster of islands at the bottom of the world home. We have always looked up at the flourishing diaspora of apne (our own) across the Tasman Sea, our eyes wide and admiring, like an eager younger sibling wanting to join in. In July this year, we launched YSPN in New Zealand to a room of over 100 young professionals. In conversation with these young people, one particularly compelling sentiment resounded, and in reflecting on the success of the launch, it occurred to me that it wasn’t just the stunning venue, or the wisdom shared by our guest speakers, or even the relevance of the kaupapa (the agenda) of the event that made that launch a success – it was simply that YSPN was needed.
Being a part of YSPN’s international expansion is exciting as it is: to be able to take bold actions and make brave moves in creating conditions for our young people to succeed is, in equal parts, exhilarating, humbling and fulfilling. To be a young Sikh woman learning to enact a purposeful leadership in sewa (service) of our community is a whole new experience of empowerment.
Of course, this endeavour is not without challenge. There is an entrenched status quo; a slowly unravelling youth apathy; the navigation of a previously uncharted space where ‘us’ and ‘them’ meet and of course, the inevitable roadblocks of any pioneering effort. Being the first people to do something for the first time demands tenacity and tact – a learning familiar to those who have worked tirelessly over the years to make YSPN what it is today in Australia, and a learning that we carry as we approach these challenges face-on in our city.
The fruits of a mother’s love, a teacher’s commitment or a musician’s devotion to their art are plentiful. With our sibling chapters as our muse, an incredibly adept team on the ground, and a weekend spent at the Summit enveloped in the wairua (spirit) of an enduring commitment to the cause, I cannot wait to be witness to the impact YSPN will undoubtedly have on our young people, our community, and our legacy.
Mā te wā – until next time.
Sofia and the YSPN Auckland team