Kaur Project ~ Gurpreet Kaur - Educator

Articulating Kaur* identity is complex, there is no simple classification....

 

Every Kaur has a story.

Articulating Kaur* identity is complex, there is no simple classification. Kaur Project recognizes and celebrates Kaur identity as diverse and expansive.

Hearing the call, Kaur Project’s mission is the assemblage of an exhaustive catalogue of Kaurs – a magical blend of portraits and poignant, pithy storytelling. Using these mediums, Kaur Project aims to create an approachable and yet densely layered dialogue about Kaurs, ready to be unpacked.

How Kaur Project unfolded.

There is a great deal of discussion about women's equality, but we are steeped in an old patriarchal culture that makes us complicit in the erasure of women, past and present.

The few historicized Kaur stories, often are defined in relation to their male counterparts. Often their full contributions as thinkers, poets and warriors unto themselves have been eclipsed by historians, policy, and our communities.

But, a new generation of Kaurs exist as teachers, lawyers, artists, entrepreneurs, doctors, homemakers, filmmakers and more, all carrying on the movement of revolutionary women. They have found brave new ways to reflect their identities while offering their own unique voices to public discourse. We are proud to call them our contemporaries -- they are sources of inspiration, wisdom and leadership, who deserve to be known.

The Kaurs highlighted by Kaur Project are modern-day heroines - and for each Kaur story we share, there are thousands more, blazing their own paths.

*What is a Kaur?

These women share a commonality – the middle or last name of Kaur. They are not necessarily related. With the creation of the Khalsa Panth, Guru Gobind Singh (the tenth Nanak), gave a way for each Sikh to drop their last names and utilize a collective name (Kaur for women and Singh for men) that liberated oppression of class, caste and social determinants of destiny. Further, adopting Kaur challenged the patriarchal system of women having to take their husband's name.

How are Kaurs chosen?

Mostly this consists of “kaur-spotting” and explaining the importance of celebrating the diversity and inclusivity of Kaurs. Kaur Project documents and celebrates this through photography and storytelling. Some Kaurs are flattered while others are suspicious. We always ask permission before taking a snap and sharing their story.


Who's behind Kaur Project?

Saji Kaur Sahota & Jessie Kaur Lehail (45K)


Photography by Saji Kaur Sahota

Lauded for her strong and dynamic style, Saji Kaur takes pictures that capture spirit in the emotionally charged and spirited way that has become her signature. When not behind the lens, Saji Kaur champions social causes and is a distinctive voice on South Asian media.

Storytelling by Jessie Kaur Lehail

Jessie Kaur has a way with words. A writer by default. Every story she tells is intensely focused on winning hearts and minds. Her background spans disciplines, but is inherently focused on narratives accurately empowering South Asians within cultural engagement and communication.

KAURS
Gurpreet Kaur - Educator

gurpreet2 (19K)
gurpreet3 (117K)
"Stand as one, represent thousands.” Power of one can never be undervalued and that is my motto as an educator. Each student is capable and unique as an individual and understanding who is in your classroom and how they feel is a great way to approach your students. A culture of care goes a long way. I have a bigger purpose for creating a safe environment for young men and women to connect to their roots, instil a sense of curiosity, which builds self-esteem, confidence and citizenship. My teaching practice is always focused on trying to shine a light on my students’ backgrounds and drawing on it as a strength. The projects I assign in class open up a channel for building a sense of empathy and community within the classroom. To me, education of the heart is just as important as education of the mind. At all times, I try to role model values like compassion, humility, equality, tolerance and selfless service to others. As a Kaur, I am deeply connected to my spiritual self and believe that we are all humans on a Spiritual Journey. The self- respect, integrity, humility, boldness and courage to be myself are some of the traits I inherited as a Kaur. Standing for the truth and defending the weaker is also something that I strongly believe in. I draw my strength from the recitation of Gurbani and from the teachings imparted by the Gurus. I feel that Kaur is actually a way of living. Hence humility, compassion and service are important components of my classroom. Students learn more from what you are than what you say. Building relationships and a sense of community is very important to me. As an educator in a leadership role as a department head, I have made it my goal to encourage students to learn any and all languages. What I say by languages however is not simply the alphabet, or the grammar, but also the culture, and the heritage a language represents. One must always be proud of one’s heritage while also maintaining a dedication to diversity and the open-mindedness to learn about another’s culture. We can never be equal and well respected ourselves without offering the very same to those different from us. When a student takes my class, they take away this message, the language they learn represents the deeper beliefs in empathy and diversity.

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