Washington: Inspired by the "langar" of the Golden Temple, where they visited early this year, a group of US students are organising a free meal day at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Students of the University of Michigan who are back in Ann Arbor after their summer trip to the Golden Temple, cooked chickpeas, chutney and salad in shifts with help from the community at Gurudwara Sahib. "The food were packaged by hand into a tortilla wrap and served on the Diag all day Friday, September 19.
"American society needs spaces where rich and poor, people of all races and beliefs can come to share a common space. This university langar can provide that medium," said Jasprit Singh, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science who led the students' summer trip to India.
While at the Golden Temple in June, the 13 undergraduate students got up early every morning to do "seva," or work. They chopped and cooked vegetables, washed lentils, made bread, cleaned dishes and learned sustainable nourishment at the Golden Temple. The India trip was part of the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates programme at the University of Michigan.
Michael Jordan, director of Centre for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS), said that the Golden Temple programme was a model of what GIEU does. "By contributing their own time and having learned from their experience, the group is now bringing that tradition back to U-M," he said. "This trip was about humility and inspiration," said Jessica Eller, a junior at the Ford School of Public Policy, was part of the group, adding that it has widened her perspective about who's a volunteer and who is a recipient.
"The person sitting next to me during the meal could be a millionaire from London one day and a beggar girl the next day. "Everyone received the same service," she said. Sarah Marshall, a junior studying environment and international studies, said she would discuss the love and compassion she received at the temple.
She chose to make rotis (Indian bread) as her seva and soon formed a community with the women there. "I didn't speak the language, but I could see their eyes light up every morning when I came," she said. "It was a comfort to see familiar faces every morning." Radha Patel, a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, said the experience really opened her eyes to what can be achieved by volunteer work.