“Satshriakal.” Sophomore Mandeep Ballagan pronounced in a slightly accented voice the word for ‘hello’ in her native language of Punjabi.
Ballagan’s parents moved to the U. S. from Punjab, India before her birth.
“Their main reason for moving to America was because of the better opportunities for life, more successful jobs, and to make life easier for us kids,” Ballagan said.
Ballagan grew up speaking Punjabi and didn’t start speaking English until she turned three years old. She could fluently speak both languages.
The six or seven times that Balagan and her family traveled to Punjab, she noticed many differences between India and the United States including the comparatively worse levels of poverty .
“It’s a really life-opening opportunity. Seeing the poverty and everything, it makes you thankful for what you have, here in America,” Ballagan said.
Even though they live in America, Ballagan’s parents made a point of keeping their heritage alive in their children. Her parents made her two siblings and her, speak Punjabi exclusively at home and Ballagan’s father began teaching her how to read and write in Punjabi.
“Whenever I go to Punjab I can understand mostly everything that people say, but I can’t read any of the signs or billboards.” Ballagan said. “And I want to be able to read our Shri Guru Granth Sanib Ji, it’s similar to a Christian’s Bible, but for my religion. I want to be able to read all the wisdom within it, the way it was meant to be read.”
She enjoyed many perks to being bilingual such as listening to music and watching TV in both languages, communicating in both languages, and helping translate for some friends and family who didn’t know English.
Overall, Ballagan expressed how important heritage can be in a person’s life.
“I feel like the language you naturally speak is a major part of who you are.” Ballagan said. “If you lose your fluency in speaking it, you lose a big part of yourself. I think anyone who is bilingual should always remain fluent in their primary language.”
JAGS Community Service Club conducted a mens clothing drive from Monday, Sept. 19-Friday, Sept. 30 at the beginning of school next to the counseling office. All the clothes that are donated go to Kansas City Rescue Mission for homeless men. JAGS sponsor Jodi Ellis is eager to see the students give clothing.
“I am so excited that there has been a lot donated. I am really proud of the students and excited to give more than what I expected to the lady,” Ellis said.
The JAGS got some help with planning the drive by a parent who works at the Kansas City Rescue Mission. She contacted Ellis and told her that they needed mens clothing because women and children receive the majority of donated clothing while men are forgotten.
“A lot of times places just donate to families and children. People tend to think of men as capable of providing for themselves,” Ellis said. “This would be the first place people would think to not donate to.”
Junior JAGS member Pindi Ballagan has had the opportunity to participate in the clothing drive.
“I am excited that I get to feel good about helping the community,” Ballagan said.
So far there have been approximately seven to eight sacks of clothes donated.