“Money should not be concern to higher education,” said Tarun Singh, one of the founders. The scholarship is a small step to “encourage youth and parents to go beyond just being content with status quo, …and to achieve more than just trying to get a good job.”
The scholarships are funded by donations from the Khoj sevadars. A committee will review the applications, and short-list the top candidates for a final interview.
The first scholarship, Bhai Sahib Veer Singh Ji All-Around Excellence Scholarship, is applicable to students who have done well academically but also have excelled in other areas, such as sports.
The Kavi Santokh Singh Ji Academic Excellence Scholarship is suitable for students with strong academic standing.
And the Bhagat Pooran Singh Ji Humanitarian Seva Scholarship is befitting for those students who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to help their community through seva, according to the Khoj Web site.
Students are required to submit an essay on the Sikh historical figure for which the scholarship is named. “Candidates may apply to more than one scholarship but will need to submit a different application for each scholarship and answer the essay prompts accordingly on each,” the Web site says.
Khoj is as a day-retreat where young people in the Bay Area, between 16 and 30, come together to discuss deeper meanings of Sikhi, Tarun Singh said.
“There is not much (opportunity) outside of Khalsa schools and gurmat camps to discuss deeper questions,” he said from Boston, where he now lives. “Questions like what is the distinction between seva from a Sikh perspective and a non-Sikh perspective, and what does Gurbani say about celebrating a New Year.”
The first Khoj workshop was held in December 2009. About 100 people participate in the workshops. Kids as young as 13 and adults as old as 70 have participated.
“We may be targeting youth from high school and up, but age not restriction,” Tarun Singh said. “We don’t turn people away.”
Speakers, such as Hardayal Singh, one of the founders of United Sikhs, and Tejinder Singh from Guru Nanak Academy in Canada, are often invited to talk to the youth.
“The topics span a wide variety of issues, but go deeper,” he added.
Sargunjot Kaur, another of about 30 sevadars, describes Khoj workshops as a “collegiate conference,” a place to challenge the mind and spirit.
“Being in that kind of an environment is stimulating,” the University of California at Berkeley sophomore said. The company you keep affects where you are going be tomorrow. “It’s essential to motivate the upcoming generation to be in that company, to hold stimulating conversations… and to challenge them to think higher.”