High School Punjabi Course Teaches Lessons Beyond Language

January 30, 2006

Source: The Mercury News


On January 30, 2006 The Mercury News reported, "Navjot Cheema, 17, is talking to his grandparents. He's reading holy scripture. And he's explaining who he is to others on campus. For the first time, the senior can do these things in a meaningful way, thanks to the addition this year of Punjabi as a language elective at James Logan High School, the first in the Bay Area to offer it. The Union City school is one of only four high schools in California to offer Punjabi for credit. The addition of the course reflects the growing number of families in the Bay Area who speak Punjabi, the primary language in Punjab, which is the name of a state in the northern tip of India and also a nearby province in eastern Pakistan. For Navjot and his classmates, learning to read and write their native tongue means they're also gaining a richer understanding of their culture, their families and their faith. But there's an unexpected bonus, too: The Punjabi class has helped break down barriers between their families and the wider community... Community leaders estimate there are about 50,000 Sikhs living in the Bay Area: 35,000 to 40,000 in Fremont and other parts of southern Alameda County, and about 10,000 to 15,000 scattered throughout the South Bay. Of the 4,400 students at James Logan, about 300 are from families who speak Punjabi."