Impressions from My First WBF Convention

by Ajay Malaviya

 

Upon my arrival at the first World Brahman Federation convention earlier this month I had limited knowledge, an open mind and hardly any expectation as to what I was going to do, see and experience.  The only experience I had was at the BSNA conventions of which I attended two one in Allentown , PA and one in Reading , PA.  I remembered my experiences as being positive but not nearly as focused on my issues and my needs as a young adult and more focused towards my parent’s generation and beyond.

            When I walked into the doors of the Windsor Room Friday afternoon after a delicious lunch that we caught the tail end of I found myself sitting in a meeting full of adults talking about the goals, financial responsibilities and the agenda for the next two days events.  As each new family entered the room we were asked by family to introduce ourselves and tell us a little bit about our background.  I was very happy to see that amidst all the discussions that were going on that people our age were given the distinction of introducing ourselves and basically informing the committee members as well as all who were present what we had to bring to the table and to get us involved in what we would be expecting at the convention.

            As the convention kicked off on Saturday I was fortunate to attend a number of lectures with very interesting discussion topics.  Some of the discussion panels that were particularly interesting that I attended were those on Sanatan Dharma particularly those in the breakout session in which there was more time to debate and less time to sit and listen.  If I will remember one breakout session particularly well from this convention it would have to be the first breakout session in which the discussion was based around finding a “pill” for Sanatan Dharma that we can all take, an easy and standardized recipe to make all our lives better.  I particularly enjoyed listening to the two different sides in a very lively discussion particularly points made by both Dr. Ram anath Sharma and Ms. Saroja Hansoge.

            Every year the conventions present something unique and different that leaves and impression on those who attend and I felt that apart from the symposiums and discussions the Kashmir Exhibit presented by the Koul family was one of those important and different aspects that I think everyone will remember.  The presentation of the posters and the video as well as the organization of the captions really tied together the Indian impression of the conflict from a first hand source.  I felt this was important and it was an excellent increased awareness module for all attendees.

            I was honored and privileged that Nirmal uncle had asked me to co-chair the youth wing breakout session on Saturday afternoon.  Even before going into the session with very little preparation I felt that it would be an excellent opportunity to meet the various youths who were present at the convention as well as get a chance to know more people my age and see how other individuals from my generation think about issues that face us all today.  Through the organization of the youth session I was able to meet and talk to my co-chair Ms. Veda Shastri from Tufts University as well as have an informal discussion with Ms. Saroja Hansoge to get an idea of some of the discussions we should focus on.  Honestly I must say there was very little preparation on our part but more of a set of mental guidelines as we entered the session.  We began with an informal introduction and background of where everyone was from as well as where in India everyone claimed their roots and heritage.  We were pleased to see a wide range of youth from all over India .  We then engaged in wide variety of open ended discussions that covered topics of everyone’s interpretation of how they practice Brahman values in their everyday lives, how religious and traditional they were, did they enjoy going to India and what aspects of traveling to India did they particularly like or not like.  What really sparked incredible unexpected discussion were political issues particularly topics of Kashmir .  We decided to touch on this important topic not only because it seemed to be a theme of the convention but because we always find ourselves hearing about what politicians and uncle and aunties have to say about the issue however we never hear about what young adults growing up here think about these issues.  The discussions centered around what do you feel is the problem, how do you feel it can be resolved and how do you feel future generations should make an effort to resolving the social problems that face this region.  Because of our wide background we had some intense discussions and we were pleased to see that everyone was getting involved and there was a level of comfort where everyone felt they could make a meaningful contribution without any feeling of reservation.

            I feel that the group as a whole was very positive about their experience in this convention and we definitely got to know each other much better as a result of the youth discussion forum.  I thought one of the most important sessions that was definitely challenging for us as young adults was the session Sunday morning on the youth feedback and what we thought we could change for future conventions.  The other day I was on the WBF website and had a chance to look at the interim constitution in which the mission of the foundation talked about passing the teachings and values onto our children and the next generation.  I think the convention definitely lived up to that part of the mission and this was culminated by the questions posed to us on Sunday morning by parents, scholars and the convention organizing committee members.  Some tough questions such as the distancing of college students from their parents after they leave home, what things we would like to change in the future conventions and what we would like to see more of in the subsequent conventions.

            In closing I would like to thank Nirmal uncle as well as the entire WBF organizational board and staff for the opportunity to chair and be actively involved in the 2006 Convention.  I think the entire WBF committee did an excellent job in including the young youth and making them an integral part of discussions forums and sessions the entire weekend.  We look forward to more workshop sessions, more discussion panels and a larger youth sector in future WBF conventions as it grows and prospers every year henceforth.  Thank you again.