|How can the North American youth of Assamese origin contribute to Assam?|
By Krishangi Kaushik (Krishangi's essay is awarded fist prize in Assam Convention Essay Writing Competition 2016)
There is one infamous question that is always asked to every person with a different skin color, facial structure, or accent: “Where are you from?” Now, most people are offended when met with this question as it usually implies that a person is an outsider or different; however, I never saw any problem with it. Yes, I am different but I am proud of being different. I always look at the question as an educational opportunity: I get to spread the word of my rich, colorful culture. I can teach people who would have otherwise gone their entire lives not knowing about the existence of our beautiful Assam. I’m proud of where I come from.
The most important contribution from us North American youths of Assam origin is having pride in our heritage. When someone is proud of something, they are more likely to care about that thing and contribute to the betterment of it. Being proud of Assam means that it’s more likely that our generation will help preserve Assamese culture by learning the language, the history, the art, and the music. It means that we will be encouraged to work hard and earn money to financially support projects and people of the state. We will be working hard to create new projects in Assam and change lives for the better. As long as we are proud of where we come from and care about preserving our heritage, we can accomplish very much for the state of Assam. So how can a young person preserve an entire culture? This is not as intimidating as it may seem. Many young people in our community have simply carried on the heritage by learning the language. This ability to communicate in Axomiya gives us the opportunity to converse with the older Assamese generations and learn from them. We can explore far into the depths of this long held culture full of brilliantly constructed works of art.. Learning the language keeps words of the illustrious poets, lyricists, playwrights, and novelists thriving in a new generation. We must learn the language so that we may gain wisdom from these artists and then spread it to generations far beyond us.
Music is a language that is spoken by every single human being on planet Earth. Even if lyrics are not understood, people can listen to melodies, rhythms, and beats. Music can distinguish a group of people. Each nation has a national anthem because music is unifying. This is why it is powerful for our generation’s musical individuals to learn the music of Assam. We can perform it or even play around with it and create fusions with Western music. However we interact with it, if we can create something new or simply keep it alive, we are enhancing Assamese culture by embracing an integral piece within it. The culture of Assam can also be preserved within what many tend to call superficial or shallow: fashion. Fashion plays a substantial role in creating identity of a culture. A national dress distinguishes each unique and individual tradition and can often lead to enlightening conversations. I tend to teach the most people about Assam when my mother or any other beautiful Assamese woman is wearing a Mekhela Sador. From our dazzling silks, weaving patterns, and accessories, fashion plays one of the biggest roles in Assamese culture and it is very important that we, the new generation, also wear these clothes and start our own conversations along the way. We should take part in the fashion shows that we do at conventions or even our local Bihus.
Because we take pride in being Assamese and we care about the state, we want to make it, simply, a happy place to live. Although many of us cannot make donations quite yet, we should make it a goal that when we are grown up with jobs, we make it a priority to support what we can in Assam. We have been placed in very fortunate situations where we have doors open to us towards higher education. Especially as a young woman, I feel even more fortunate to be living in the US and gaining an equal education and access to opportunities as my male peers.Assamese people are suffering from discrimination and unequal treatment and it is our job to learn all that we can right now so that when we have the ability and power to make substantial changes, we can.
Obviously, it is not only adults who can make a change. There are projects and missions lead by people of our own generation. Young people are very powerful as they have fresh ideas and avantgarde approaches to existing problems. It is very important that our generation is involved in the betterment of Assam and its citizens. Although we do not have the capabilities to financially support many missions and goals, we do have innovative ideas and we should work with those who do have the capabilities to create new projects. Ideas that are possible include, partnering with a women’s shelter, spending time in the various places AFNA is already partnered with when one visits Assam, or simply make cards and send stuffed toys for sick children in hospitals. Simple ideas and goals like these are powerful and can be put into action more quickly. Step by step, the youth of Assamese origin will be able to help Assam in countless ways.
By Sabriyah Taher (Sabriyah essay is awarded second prize in Assam Convention Essay Writing Competition 2016)
Information exchange between the youth populations of North America and Assam is an effective way of contributing to Assam. This essay explains a few ways in which this collaboration can be done. Growing up in a first world country, I, along with almost every other student in the US, have gained a diverse skill-set from taking up the opportunities that surrounded me from a young age. From joining a sports team to a robotics team, the youth of America have invested a tremendous amount of time into something they love since they started school. From these opportunities, they have not only learned the concepts that come from being in a club pertaining to school subject matter, but they have also learned values such as teamwork, leadership, communication, and sportsmanship. A student’s activity outside of school is taken seriously in America, and as a result, they learn a variety of skills that they can use in the future. However, when discussing the value of afterschool involvement of students in Assam, the conversation is cut short because studying is the only priority for both primary and secondary students. In fact, when I talk to my cousins, the pastimes of American students often surprise those living in Assam. Some of the most prevalent ideas that have been successful in developing America’s youth are the implementation of the newest technologies in elementary schools, the emphasis of networking and communication between students and corporations, and the lessons and values learned from afterschool activities. Missing these opportunities brings Assam and its students behind, and showing Assam that these opportunities exist is the first step to bringing them ahead.
Compared to the rest of the world, Assam is behind in bringing and implementing the latest technologies in their people’s daily lives, especially for its youth. Whether it is robotics or 3D printing, not all Assamese students have seen nor heard of the breadth of opportunities that come from using these technologies. Since I am a student in America, the opportunities to learn are given to me, either from school or from the news that is buzzing around. For example, I was able to join a competitive robotics team because I heard about it from my friends and teachers. Because of this, I have had exposure to both robotics and 3D printing before I go into college. In addition, I have used many different power tools and I have been acquainted to programming in Java. But these technologies are just a fraction of what the youth of Assam is missing. Although high school robotics is becoming more popular in India, Assam only has a robotics club at the university level. Also, students in high school are now creating their own tech startups based on a unique idea they have created, and they have also programmed and marketed their own mobile applications. These experiences have pulled American students ahead in the job market and have made them generally more curious about the world around them, which makes them more inclined to seek out rewarding experiences for themselves. Opportunities like these are not prevalent in the schools of Assam, and these students are more behind than students around the world. An exchange of information about these technologies between the youth of America and the youth of Assam can raise awareness about this fact. This knowledge will then be the catalyst of change in Assamese schools. One important result that will come from this exchange of information is that students will seek opportunities for the growth of themselves rather than for the purpose of competing with other people. There are many other students like me living here in America, including students on robotics teams and students who have started their own companies who can give back to Assam in an impactful way by teaching Assamese students how to utilize the newest machines to their full potential. This would be especially effective because the youth of America are the most familiar with how to use the technologies of today, and students helping each other creates a more comfortable learning culture and atmosphere.
Even in first world countries, the importance of networking and branding oneself in the job industry is not stressed upon until one has started to look for a job after college. While this method still results in obtaining a job, communicating with professionals in a business is often difficult for many because it is one of the first time in which a person is left truly on their own. However, high school students in America are now becoming aware of the advantages that come from networking at an early age. Students who are involved in entrepreneurship and community outreach activities know that making connections in one’s community leads to opportunities that could have never presented themselves otherwise. These opportunities are often very worthwhile and are great learning experiences, and they are usually absent among Assam’s youth. Knowing the skills that come from reaching out into the community leadership, communication, and networking can be the difference between whether or not a student gets a job later in life. By showing students and school faculty in Assam such values, students will be more familiar with the concept of interacting with professionals in their community and will thus seek out more experiences to advance themselves while they are still in school, either through helping out an employee in the office or even getting a small job. To effectively establish these behaviors among students in Assam, American students who have learned similar lessons regarding these skills should tell Assamese students about the impact communication and networking had on their lives. From these stories, they will realize that simply studying is not usually a common road to success. Some students in America may start out with not being the best in school, but the connections that they develop during high school give them opportunities that teach them some of the most important realworld lessons that are not taught in a classroom. Discussing with teachers in terms of what skills would be most beneficial to the students would give students from America an idea of what exactly is lacking in the school environment when compared to the activities in American schools. This is another way that we can effectively implement networking behaviors in the schools of Assam. Discussion with the school principals on starting afterschool activities that teach and promote these ideas is still another way to initiate the awareness of the importance of communication and outreach among high school students in Assam. By going through the faculty to carry out the mission of teaching students the networking skills, the school environment that promotes these behaviors will stay for the younger students graduating into high school grades and will then become stronger over the years. This provides a solid foundation for students to reach out and be a leader in their community.
Throughout this essay, afterschool activities have been mentioned as the movement that brings change to a school community through increasing the amount of learning opportunities for students. It is oftentimes an afterschool activity that brings a student out from under their shell and transforms them into a strong person that can tackle difficult challenges. Physical sports, math and science olympiads, entrepreneurship teams, and other large student groups all have an element of teamwork and perseverance through which students realize that almost anything is possible. Afterschool activities also build the confidence of its participants, which is often lacking among teenagers who are facing pressure from school in not only Assam but in the rest of the world. The community, leadership, and work ethic that comes from participating in an afterschool activity is very rare in Assam, where the involvement of a student outside of schoolwork is not factored into college application. Because of this, students may not see a reason in participating in such activities. However, showing teachers and other faculty the value of afterschool programs for students will lead to an increase in awareness of these activities. Eventually, students will take up something that they enjoy to make new friends, learn new concepts, and develop some key skills along the way. Another helpful part of implementing afterschool activities in schools that are completely new to such programs is that a template for planning and establishing a specific program is usually already available, so following some steps is all that is necessary to get a program running in a primary or secondary school. The straightforward nature of instituting any afterschool program combined with the benefits it reaps for any student makes it an idea worth implementing in any school. Since Assam does not have a large amount of opportunities for its students, the knowledge of such opportunities joining a programming club or volunteer group is not there. This lack of awareness causes the students of Assam to stay at the same place and even fall behind others in this world, and puts Assam’s youth at a disadvantage. Raising awareness of such available experiences will make the young minds of Assam curious and they will seek out whatever opportunities that feed their interest. From being followers, they will become pioneers in their community and lead others in a search for knowledge, all during their school days. By introducing such behaviors early, the environment of curiosity and discovery is created for the younger generations. This culture will foster more unique ideas and turn them into a reality once they have learned the right concepts and have gotten the necessary connections to start lead their own interest.
By Garggie Talukdar ( Nominated as one of be best best essay with Selector's appreciation)
Halfway across the world, the youth of North America, can still contribute to Assam. This April/May, I took a trip with my mother to Assam. There, I could find some problems that we usually don’t face here, and today, I want to write about what we, even as citizens of a different country, can do to help our Assam.
The major problem that stands between us and helping out Assam, is distance. Working hands-on is a very hard solution to execute, as it requires flying over to help out. A very useful tool that we can use however, is the internet. That is the reason why I think that we should raise awareness to the problems that we can help solve, using the internet to project what we want to say.
Awareness can be raised in several different ways. One example is raising awareness towards the cultural aspect of Assam, to help it gain recognition in North America, which in turn, might attract attention to other problems that Assam faces that stunts its possible growth and development. We celebrate Rongali Bihu in Toronto every April, and perform dances, songs, and sometimes even plays. Occasionally, we get a TV station to broadcast our programs. By making our rich culture open for everyone to see, others will be able to enjoy our traditions, which could lead to positive attention on subjects that should be a big concern in Assam.
One problem that I found during my month-long visit in Assam, was the traffic and road conditions. It was incredibly different than what we face, here in North America. For a place in which only the driver needs to wear a seat beat, the driving conditions are terrible. There is no definition of lanes in Guwahati, and drivers constantly weave in and out, which would increase the risk of a mishap and a crash. Pedestrians also don’t have any area to cross the road, and with such a dense population, I thought that there would definitely be some crossing areas. India, as a whole, has the world’s highest rate of deaths per day, due to a car crash; every four minutes, one person dies in India, because of a road accident. 25% of those deaths could be prevented by wearing a seatbelt. The statistics are staggering, and not in a good way. What’s even more surprising?: the fact that heavier law enforcement on seat belts aren’t being made. With the population and how driver’s drive, it’s a shock, that laws weren’t enforced sooner. Here in North America, we could research on these topics, and present these facts. By creating petitions online, or signing existing ones, we can bring our opinions in the hands of an official, as soon as possible.
This time, my visit in India mainly took place while I was staying at my borta’s house in Boragaon. It was beautiful, surrounded with various species of flora and fauna, unlike anything I’ve seen here. But once every so often, a horrible stench would drift in by a gust of wind. Later would I realize, that this smell was coming in from a nearby landfill. The Boragaon Landfill is quite infamous, and I was shocked with what it was. Shocked with not only the amount of trash being dumped there, or how close people were living to it, but also the fact that not much was being done to get rid of it, or at least slow down the amount of things being dumped. The definition of ‘youth’ is the age group between children and adults. From ages 12-18, it would be difficult to go to Assam and fight against this, but we can do our part here. We could write letters to our head of the country, and create movements, fundraisers, and presentations of the landfill. All of this could be done to raise awareness, and attracting attention to what’s not being done, and what could be done to help out the entire situation.
The ways that we attract awareness to these problems could be through researching thoroughly through all the possible problems, creating petitions or signing existing ones, and attracting attention through means of letters to officials, and presentations. All of the following solutions can be put into action through the internet. Awareness is not something that can only be done here, but also there. We various outputs, in which we can write and publish just what dumping garbage without going through it can do, or that seatbelts are part of our cars for our protection. One thing that I believe is unique, is our- the youth of North America with Assamese heritage- perspective. We grew up in such a different environment, that we put out blue bins for recycling, or that we always put on our seat belt upon coming in a car, that we can see what can be done, and how we can use our resources to do it.
So I think that, despite not having as big of a voice as an adult, being a ‘youth’, and also living across the world, we can contribute to Assam. We can bring attention and raise awareness to rising issues in Assam, and we can keep our culture and traditions alive in North America, and bring attention to the culturally diverse, and uniquely rich, Assam.
By Shruti Thakuria ( Nominated as one of be best best essay with Selector's appreciation)
How can the North American youth of Assamese origin contribute to Assam? The earliest trip to India that I remember was when I was four, though I had actually also gone at the age of one and a half. During this trip, I was elated to see my family members and took great enjoyment in being the pampered little child of the house. However, the event that had the greatest impact on me was when a beggar came to our house. She was a mother, holding the hand of a scrawny toddler on one side and a tiny infant on the other. I glanced at her for only a second before feeling shy and going back inside, but in that second I was able to glimpse the hardship that she faced every day, and the stress of trying to provide for her children. Her difficult life had taken a heartbreaking toll on her physique, giving her a hunched back and a sad, tired expression. It was then that my eyes were first opened to the realization that not everyone was as lucky as I. My sadness for the woman turned to helplessness as the day went on, as I realized that no matter how much food I gave to the poor, no matter how much money I donated, I would never be able to provide enough for all of them. As a person of Assamese origin, I hope that myself and the rest of the North American youth of Assamese origin can help make a difference in the lives of such people.
The North American youth of Assamese origin can contribute to Assam in a variety of different ways. First of all, we can form local youth branches that can collaborate to conduct greater fundraisers and hold events in a more professional fashion. To raise money for AFNA, we can also find companies willing to sponsor their efforts. Additionally, we can provide ideas for new projects in Assam that benefit its citizens, such as educational and healthrelated programs. Furthermore, communications between North America and Assam can be strengthened by organizing trips to Assam so that people living in other countries can directly aid Assamese citizens and properly assess the effectiveness of the programs being run.
By forming more organized local groups in North America, the youth can hold more organized events and more professionally spread word of their cause. For example, youth in the Bay Area can form a group under the name of Bay Area Assamese Youth Organization, with other regions having similar names. These groups would be classified as subgroups of AFNA, with all of their efforts conducted to help this main organization. Fundraisers can be held through shows and events that cater to the interests of local citizens, while also raising awareness of issues being aided through AFNA’s many programs. For example, these local divisions can sell small items such as calendars, keychains, or even snacks to help raise money, especially during the holiday season. They can also conduct larger events such as performances to capture larger audiences and make more money in a small amount of time. Another such idea would be to have members of this organization sell snacks and other goods at Bihu functions, or perhaps even ask for donations during this time. These fundraisers would not only raise money to sponsor more widespread and effective programs in Assam, but would also allow the community of North Americans aiding the Assamese population to grow. Additionally, those in North America could find corporate sponsors such as IBM, Walmart, and others for events and projects, greatly boosting their funding and therefore their ability to aid those in Assam. This would once again allow for larger, more professional fundraising events, further spreading the public reach of these organizations.
North Americans can also aid those in Assam by providing ideas for new projects, which can then be started up by associates in Assam. Through periodically organized meetings the two branches would be able to work closely and effectively with each other, thus being able to come up with stronger and more immediately effective ideas. Together, the two groups would be able to more quickly create new projects that would directly address some of the main problems occurring in the state, simultaneously improving upon existing projects as felt necessary. For example, AFNA’s Support a Child program can be improved upon by forming alliances with the Global Fund for Children, the United Nations Foundation, and other such organizations to help more Assamese children get the help and resources they need. Drawing inspiration from these groups will be immensely helpful in making the SAC program more effective and widespread. Additionally, AFNA can begin extending its reach to disabled youth to help give them the education they would otherwise be deprived of. AFNA’s Support a Disabled Worker can be similarly improved upon by forming alliances with other disability assistance programs in India, allowing this program to expand and reach its efforts to a larger group of people. Other, more general examples of such projects would be a project to give food, shelter, and jobs to the homeless, or the creation of a facility that gives education to those too poor to afford it. Another possible program could be one to help prevent common diseases spread through villages by providing free vaccines to its citizens. Finally, North Americans can aid those in Assam by arranging medical missionstyle trips to the state. Middle and high schoolers can travel in small groups with adult chaperones to supervise the trip and organize daily schedules. During these trips, the youths would be given opportunities to volunteer at AFNA facilities of their choice, allowing them to directly understand the problems being faced in Assam and have the experience of helping those in need. Systematically scheduling these trips would allow regular volunteers at the facilities to take breaks more often, as the children would take over some of their jobs during this time. These regular volunteers could utilize this time to plan improvements for the facilities or simply relax. Overall, the experience of this trip would inspire youths to want to do more for their home state, and perhaps inspire them to come up with new ideas to make these facilities more efficient and widespread, or to create a new facility altogether. The youths would be free to share these ideas with AFNA in order to help optimize their many programs, making them more beneficial to those they are targeted towards.
In conclusion, the North American youth of Assamese origin can contribute to those in Assam by forming localized organizations that would then raise money through local fundraisers and corporate sponsors, while simultaneously spreading awareness for their cause. Additionally, North Americans could collaborate with those in Assam to create new ideas to optimize existing programs, or create new ones to address situations that have not been taken care of as yet. Finally, medical missionstyle trips can be organized to allow those in North America to personally help those in need, helping them understand the cause they are invested in and inspiring them to come up with new ideas on how to help these people. This would allow for a more direct assessment of the effectiveness of the programs, allowing these programs to be optimized faster. Through these many methods, I truly feel that the North American youth of Assamese origin can have a great impact on bettering the lives of those in Assam.
By Brinda Kalita ( Nominated as one of be best best essay with Selector's appreciation)
Growing up as a child, my Assamese heritage was a big part of my life. From eating the Assamese style cuisine to low-key celebrating the festivals, to even visiting the state myself, the idea of being Assamese and helping out my second motherland is very important to me. Unfortunately, as a young person, it is very difficult to directly change many of the problems that Assam currently faces. However, through the means of the internet, I can bring awareness to many problems that I feel Assamese people may face every day, such as poor garbage disposal system, the underpayment of the tea farmers, the low demand for Assamese silk throughout the world and the own ignorance of their culture.
Although having ignorance towards their own culture does not affect Assam and the residents living there currently, it does affect its North American youth drastically. In this day and age, much American-Assamese youths either seem to deem their culture as ‘uncool’ or don’t really know about it at all. This is mostly because their exposure to Assam is so little, since either their parents do not educate them about where they came from, or children choose to ignore their parents when they do mention Assam. However, with the help of Social Media, this can easily be changed. If someone wants to bring awareness to a serious topic these days, they can easily show their support by either changing their profile picture or by using a hashtag to advocate for something they want to support. If people can do this for other causes, we can easily do this for Assam as well. And, if we can get the idea that Assam is cool out to the kids, they will be more likely to learn more about Assam on their own free will, and maybe feel more obligated to help out Assam in the near future.
Not only can we use social media to spread messages among the Assamese-American youth, we can also use it to help spread information about problems that Assam is currently facing. An example of a problem that Assam is facing right now is that tea farmers are severely underpaid because many of the middlemen who export out the tea choose to keep the money to themselves. Many people right now probably don’t know that tea farmers are underpaid, or don’t even know that most of their favorite Starbucks Chai come from Assam’s farms! With the help of the internet, though, this could easily be changed. If many people want to shed light to this topic, they can easily either share an article on Facebook to their friends, reblog an article on Assam’s tea farm industry on Tumblr, or even tweet a short message about the Tea Farms on Twitter. If enough people spread the word about the underpayment of tea farmers, the big and important people who do control the industry may feel inspired to change the current situation.
Another great thing about the internet is that many fashion trends spread quickly through the internet. From the Coachella trends to the “Tumblr aesthetic” to even things like graffiti hair, the internet has its ways of spreading fashion trends like wildfire. Although the demand of silk is high in Assam, its demand throughout India and the rest of world is quite less. So, why not make Assamese silk a trending fabric! If someone can figure out a way to implement the use of silk in a trendy way, and share this discovery online, with the help of fellow fashion mavens, we can get Assamese silk to become a popular fabric throughout the world. If the fabric becomes popular, then the industry of silk can grow again Assam, causing there to be a need from silk producers out there. So, not only can we help the silk industry in Assam grow, we can also help the unemployment rates go down since Assam is also having problems with their employment rates lately.
One of the main reasons why people would want to visit Assam is for its beautiful scenery and amazing animals. That was definitely one of the reasons why I was excited to go. Everywhere I went, however, from the main city of Guwahati to the wildlife reserves; there was always at least one or trash mountain somewhere. I later was able to discover that Guwahati does not have reliable garbage disposal system. So, the only logical way to get rid of trash is to either dump it onto the streets. Unless you’ve been to the country, there is absolutely no way you possibly could’ve known that. How can we bring awareness to that type of situation? Although some may say the word of mouth or complaining to the government, as a young person who can’t really do that, my best way would be to make a YouTube video. On YouTube, you can pretty much make a video about anything, as long as you have the supplies in order to create your video. If someone can supposedly create an informational video about Assam’s current garbage disposal system, and get it to trend on YouTube, someone who can actually change the system will be bound to see it. And, if they can see it, and notice the overwhelming support behind the cause, then maybe the current system might change.
As much as I would like to say that the internet can fix everything, and then life will be cupcakes and rainbows, this is sadly not to be. Even though yes, tweeting something about the tea farms once or reblogging an interesting outfit with Assamese silk may be helpful, it’s really the buildup of tweets, reblogs, reposts, shares, and likes that something gets. This is why not only do we need to post these things online; we also must encourage people to share these videos about garbage. We need to encourage others to share their favorite pictures of cool outfits with Assamese silk as much as possible. Not only do we need to share these things on the internet, we need to talk about them in real life as well. Because only through a ruckus the word of mouth and reposts will things change. In conclusion, as a youth of Assamese American origins, I may not be able to directly walk up to the Assamese government’s office and say “Hey, why not we pay the tea farmers well so that we can support our families?” But, as a youth of Assamese American youth, I can spread the word about Assam’s beauty and Assam’s problems through the use of the internet and through word of mouth.