By Cassie Moy
Cassie Moy was a Sikh Coalition intern in the New York office for the 2008-2009 school year. Cassie is a Junior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009, marks my last day as a Sikh Coalition intern.
Eight months ago, the start of my junior year in high school, I would not have defined myself as anything in relation to the Sikh Coalition, and today I’m proud to think that I have contributed to this organization that has inspired and taught me so much.
Eight months ago, I was fresh out of the Summer Institute, a summer program designed by the
Sadie Nash Leadership Project (SNLP) to “promote leadership and activism among young women…. designed to strengthen, empower, and equip young women as agents for change in their world.” (SNLP participants are referred to as “Nashers.”) It was a wonderful experience that really fine-tuned my world view and contributed to my growth. Walking out of the Summer Institute I felt strengthened, empowered, equipped, and ready to be an agent of positive change. There was no question as to whether or not I was going to participate in the second part of SNLP’s program: Community Action Placement, or CAP.
CAP landed me an internship with the Sikh Coalition last October.
It became a gentle barrage of new experiences for a high school student who had never before worked or spent significant time in an office setting – from getting friendly with Microsoft Excel to a run out in the rain to make a last-minute shipment. And networking like I had never networked before in the name of begging my friends and classmates to please, please take this survey and pass it on.
Speaking of the survey – Beginning in autumn 2009, the Sikh Coalition began collecting surveys from New York City public school students in grades K through 12 to assess the implementation of an anti-bias-based-harassment measure put into effect last September by the Department of Education. Eventually, over a 1,100 student responses were collected as well as more than 60 teacher and school faculty responses.
I’ve become acquainted with so many stories of bias-based harassment, things that would have slipped almost noiselessly under my radar had I not been a Sikh Coalition intern. With every bullying incident that I learned about, I felt a new dismay and a new anger, and I became so glad that the Sikh Coalition was earnestly taking up these problems, which are important and relevant to their community, and because it’s the right thing to do.
I was glad to dedicate the few hours I could every week to this organization, glad to be in an office with people so dedicated and dynamic, and glad to think that any of the time I spent, and the effort I exerted, could have helped them in any way to come a little closer to “the realization of civil and human rights for all people… a world
where Sikhs may freely practice and enjoy their faith while fostering strong relations with their local community wherever they may be.”