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May 23, 2024 (Ohio, USA): Sikh Youth along with the family and community members from Cincinnati, Dayton and neighboring cities gathered at the Guru Nanak Society of Greater Cincinnati Gurdwara Sahib in Cincinnati, Ohio for the local level edition of the annual Sikh Youth Symposium 2024. 

Public Speaking Competition Details

The Convener of the Cincinnati and Dayton area for the Symposium, Sameep Singh Gumtala, shared that this is a public speaking competition held every year under the aegis of Sikh Youth Alliance of North America (SYANA) in which youth between the ages of 6 and 22 years participate in 5 separate age groups. Each group is given a book 4 months in advance and the participants have to answer the 3 questions given to them in the form of a speech for 5-7 minutes. 

Books and Topics for 2024

This year the first group was given the book, “My Guru’s Blessings”, second “Teaching Sikh Heritage to Youth”, third “20 Minutes Guide to the Sikh Faith”, and the fourth “Clash of Cultures”. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the events in 1984, the fifth group’s topic was “The Ghalughara of 1984 and subsequent Sikh struggle. This year, a total of about 50 youth participated in the event. 

The program started with the recital of Ardas and Hukumnama. Dr. Kiranpal Singh Sangha in his opening remarks to the participating youth, family and community members said, “this is the 20th year of Sikh Youth Symposium in Cincinnati. The 2023 Sikh Coalition report “Where Are You Really From” found almost 80% of Sikh youth have experienced bullying in school. With this exposure, the Sikh youth will gain confidence and be our future leaders. They will promote education and exposure about Sikh values, Punjabi language and beliefs.”  

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Awards and Advancement

All the participating youth were awarded trophies, books and water bottles with Singh and Kaur printed on them. The winner from each group gets an opportunity to participate in the State level symposium to be held in Cleveland, with winners from other cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Preparation and Workshops

Aasees Kaur, a volunteer added that continuing with the tradition, weekly workshops were held at the Gurdwara Sahib. During these workshops, students engaged in discussions and activities relating to the skill of public speaking and various Gurmat concepts. All the participants put in a tremendous amount of effort to prepare speeches for the final day. 

Acknowledgements and Closing Remarks

Tarlochan Singh Sandhawalia, one of the judges and a senior member of the community thanked and congratulated all the students, teachers, parents, volunteers, and organizing committee members for the success of this program. He added, “small children today gave big messages, all 50 participants who gave speeches are the winners. I hope and pray that Guru Sahib blesses participants with more wisdom and make Guru Nanak's Phulwadi (flower garden) bigger and more beautiful.”

Remembering a Mentor

On this occasion, Late Jaipal Singh was also remembered who taught and mentored the Sikh youth in the community year after year selflessly and with utmost devotion. 

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