Akampreet Kaur

Blog Posts by CUNY Peer Leaders

‘Dilli Chalo’ | The Largest Union Protest is Happening Right Now

Posted by Akampreet Kaur on
 “My Roots” displays generations of labor and agriculture in a Punjabi household. [By Ravina Toor]

What does democracy mean to me? It means a collective movement.

India is facing democratic issues right this second. Punjab, India is referred to as “India’s breadbasket.” More than 60% of the population in India’s labor force and economy depends on agriculture for a living. On September 27, 2020, the Indian government signed three ordinances concerning farmers (The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Ordinance, The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, The Essential Commodities Ordinance). The new farming and deregulations laws offer corporations to take advantage of farmers. 

Before these bills, farmers sold crops at auction at their state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) with the promise of getting the Minimum Support Price (MSP). These government regulated markets were established in 1964 during the Green Revolution. Now, farmers have to sell directly to buyers and bypass the government to enter into contract farming. The new bills allow traders to stockpile goods and negotiate low prices. 

Opal Tometi, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter wrote on Instagram, “Am I the only person who’s scratching their head wondering how there could be such silence around the fact that the people of India waged the largest strike in the history of the world?! Over 250 MILLION PEOPLE flexed their collective power in a courageous act of defiance against exploitation! I’m in awe of the people. And also disturbed that this news, which has global implications, was not given its due. A healthy media ecosystem is important for democracies worldwide.”

The march is called “Dilli Chalo” (“Let’s go to Delhi”) in which marchers are traveling from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to Delhi. Since November 26, 2020, thousands of farmers from Punjabi have been marching to the capital of India to protect their livelihood. Other Punjabi communities have joined by marching such as in NYC and Oregon. “We are the daughters and sons of farmers. Modi’s bill was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. We are thankful to be able to protest in the comfort here (Oregon) as the fathers and mothers sacrifice their comfort in India in the middle of the cold weather and COVID. We must stand together for our Sikhi community and voice the injustice,” said a protester from the Sikh Youth of Oregon that occurred on December 5th.

The purpose of the march is to not let big corporations exploit farmers by bargaining power and decreasing earnings. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, explained the laws would allow more freedom for farmers to sell directly to buyers and corporations. The MSP has protected farmers in the next crop cycles. The new bills can lead to unemployment and more debts. Many farmers have huge farm debts already that have led to high suicide rates. 86% of farmers are considered to be small farmers with 2 acres of land. The new regulations will cause farmers to sell their small land in order to clear debts.

Indian farmers want to be heard from the government. Yet, the protects have been answered back by riot police and paramilitary officers with tear gas and water cannons. The same workers that have been the backbone and the feeding hands of the country are being ignored. The “Mandi system” which is controlled by the government to regulate prices needs to remain or else private companies will take control of the farmer’s hard work. “If we can’t stand up for the ones who make food for us, we are dead as a society,” says Gauravdeep Singh, founder of Initiators of Change.

The farmers are still in Delhi for over 13 days doing a peaceful sit-in protest. Through collective support, the farmers have been given food, shelter, and other necessitates to continue their protest. As a Sikh, I feel proud to be in a community that stands together to protect a vulnerable group that feeds the world: farmers.

I urge you to take apart of this movement #KissanEktaZindabad [translates to Long Live, the United Farmers]

Blog Posts by CUNY Peer Leaders

contrasting ourselves

Posted by Akampreet Kaur on
Image Credit: Reddit

Not too long along, I found the above image on Reddit and I realized that I have experienced all stages of “The Cultural Journey.” As Dr. Wallace in our October 23rd meetup explained that race is a construct, much like a building, it is made by people. American culture promotes individualism so much yet I felt judged every time I went out in my cultural attire. As a confused teenager, I did not know which culture was mine. My parents wanted me to learn English so badly that they forgot to teach me my native language. I am not familiar with some of the words or the written language of my native language, Punjabi. Through all the stages, all I wanted to feel was a sense of belonging whether it was in school, a club, or with a friend. However, I was different and I am different and that’s okay. It’s high time we remember that we all are human beings! Now, I embrace my culture. I live for its music, clothes, food, and much more. I like being different. Believe it or not, I am learning every day something new about my ancestry or my culture so I can pass it on to the next generation. I want to share the vast knowledge I have with others. There’s a lot of new things that I have to spend time to understand and that’s fine because learning is a process. I want to tell my story and I want to hear stories. To end this blog, I want to ask: What stage are you on your cultural journey?

two of me

isn’t it is a beautiful thing to be 


to be able to explore, 

not one but

two different countries 

that makes me

whole & complete 

– Akampreet Kaur

Blog Posts by CUNY Peer Leaders


Posted by Akampreet Kaur on
Image Credit: Cartoon of “Factory model schools” by Awantha Artigala

As a future elementary teacher, the talk on “Change: Making Education More Equitable” made me think about how the education system is still a flawed system. I have personally seen teachers who have been in teaching for 20+ years who still go toward the “one-size-fits-all” teaching approach. A classroom needs to be flexible to meet the needs of all learners whether it’s to accommodate a student’s learning need or disability. I understand why teachers are hesitant to not allow students to take control of the classroom. However, I believe many teachers don’t acknowledge that the classroom belongs to the students’. Dr. Cathy Davidson spoke about the curriculum being differentiated. I am currently learning in my courses how to differentiate my lesson plans to suit individual needs. The system has to also understand as Dr. Davidson said that the “one-size-fits-all” is not for students or teachers. If all teachers teach using the same curriculum, the instruction is not tailored for each child’s social, emotional, and academic needs. As educators, we must know what our students need instead of following a scripted approach. Students deserve the right to have agency for their learning. As educators, we must go beyond the textbook and allow children to show their learning in various ways. The above image represents the school system during the Industrial Era. Schools were treated as a machine constructed by industrialism with the goal to make the children into adults that factories could use for economic means. Dr. Tressie Mcmillan Cottom states that scientific learning is used as an excuse to not focus on human-centered learning. This was interesting to think about and as a future teacher in the 21st century, I am constantly told to incorporate technology because students need these tools for future employment. The “factory model of education” still exists today even when classrooms are becoming more and more diverse each year.

How can we make education more equitable? As Dr. Davidson states that firstly, we must recognize that the education system is not equal. This is important because we are willing to step back and say, “Yes, there is a problem, lets fix it” rather than just list ideas that we might never take action on. The education system needs to be more open-minded based on my personal experience in elementary schools. There are many schools that hire teachers of color as a “diversity hire.” As a person of color, I am excited to be a representation for students of color and encourage them to envision themselves to work in any career field. Being a person of color in my courses, I do feel uncomfortable at times because the majority of my classmates are white females. I feel like I am doing something that might not be for me however when I enter an elementary classroom, I see how young students accept all teachers and just want to learn more about them. If children can be open to diversity, why can’t adults? As a future educator, I hope to become an advocate for my students to make sure they receive all resources and help they might need to fully reach their potential.

Image Credit: Reinvent education by Youssef Gaboune

Dr. Cottom said that there needs to be differentiated funding for people and I couldn’t agree more. Higher education has a long way to understand that there are different types of students and families to serve. I feel honored to have graduated from LaGuardia Community College because I firsthandly saw how much diversity was appreciated and acknowledged. Community colleges invite people in the community to come and share their experiences. Higher education should be open to the public. I found it remarkably motivating when Dr. Cotton said that instead of colleges saying the motto, “Work hard so you can get a job” they should say, “Work hard in college or not but isn’t it great that college is there to go to.” This mindset turns college from an individualist benefit to a collectivism benefit. If students are no longer viewed as “customers” then, teachers will also be able to hold better academic standards for their students. I found the above image to be relevant to the idea of collective benefit in the education system. There are many layers of stakeholders in education. Education policies should be redesigned to understand and focus on the role of each group. An educational institution should belong to all. Through a collectivist approach, schools become a long-term investment in compared to being short-term for a student’s grade. The education system has become too focused on grades and into  a competition. As educators, we must redesign the education policy in order to turn institutions into a societal benefit. Instead of following the scripted “one-size-fits-all” approach to have better standardized results, we must focus on educational institutions to be targeted towards society in order to improve the quality of civil life for ALL.

I would like to end this blog post by saying how much I am inspired by the three incredible women as a future educator to do better in order to make education equitable. Thank you for this event!

Blog Posts by CUNY Peer Leaders

A Deceptive Motivation

Posted by Akampreet Kaur on

It was a gloomy day, once again. The sky was filled with clouds but I forced myself to get out of bed. Days were unclear now that work was complied with personal life, so closely, that it was hard to separate the two. Some days I tend to give myself a self-care day too long and other days, I feel like checking all the things on the list. Staying home felt like a space I so desirely hoped to escape. My room is burdened with my thoughts, day and night. I should perhaps go for a walk outside to give my room some alone time. Overwhelming thoughts about not doing enough occupies me daily. One thing a day gives me the perfect illusion of being productive. 

As the tea boils over the pot, I turn off the stove. I wish it was as easy as pouring hot tea into a cup as it was pouring my thoughts to others. I sip the tea as I choose something to watch on the television. Binge-watching has become my best friend, someone I could have the deep conversations I craved with friends. I login into zoom and get ready for class. The only human contact was through technology lately, how strange was that? It was good knowing people were doing well. As class was over, I lay on my bed. Staring at the wall about thinking about the things that needed to get done. Inside my mind, I am finishing a maze, to answer the very question: Whether today will finally be the day I do it or shall I just leave it for tomorrow? 

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