For this immigrant, “home” is neither where she was born nor where she lives

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Kamlesh Rani

We often warp the idea that “home” falls under two simple parameters: a birthplace, and/or where one has a long line of familial roots

However, this isn’t the case for my grandmother. 

Kamlesh Rani, my grandma, was born and has family residing in India, yet her home resides in the warm embrace that is known as the Philippines.

The ‘Indian Filipino’

The notion of an Indian growing up in the Philippines may bewilder some, however Indians have a long history with immigrating to the island chain.

The coined term ‘Indian Filipinos’ refers to Filipinos of Indian descent who do not have any historical connections to the Philippines.

Most of the Indians and Indian Filipinos in the Philippines are Sindhi and Punjabi as well as a large Tamil population. Many are fluent in Tagalog and English as well as local languages of the provinces and islands.

Indians in the Philippines are primarily in the middle class, with main occupations in the clothing and marketing sphere. Sikhs are involved largely in finance, money lending (known as ‘Five-six’), a trade Kamlesh and her family in the Philippines were involved with.

The arranged marriage that saved her life

The eldest of six siblings, Kamlesh was always the scapegoat to the issues of her household.

“I would pretend to be sleeping when came home from work because I was scared to get in trouble,” Kamlesh said. “He used to be so angry and hit me so hard.”

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Satpal Gogna

At 15 years old, Kamlesh agreed to an arranged marriage with Satpal Gogna, a man nine years her senior living in a foreign country. Her mother chose to marry her off at such a young age to protect Kamlesh from her abusive father.

On July 5, 1965, Kamlesh left behind the  life she knew — her friends, family, culture — and embarked on a journey to an island of the unknown.

“I was so lucky that my husband had all his family. My sister in law became my best friend,” Kamlesh said. “I cut my hair short and bought all new dresses that next day.”

A home away from “home”

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Grace Jindal, Kamlesh’s daughter.

Kamlesh began to immerse herself in the culture, learning the language, cooking the local cuisine and even naming her first born daughter a Christian-related name: Grace.

“My mom did so much for us, especially after my dad passed away,” Kamlesh’s daughter Grace Jindal said. “If it wasn’t for all the family we had in the Philippines, we may have moved back to India. I am very glad we didn’t.”

The culture, the people, the food — all pieces of the Philippines that make Kamlesh who she is today.

“I was so happy. Filipino people are very nice, I felt very welcomed and loved,” Kamlesh said. “I was born in India, but the Philippines is my home.”

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Bringing justice to the Justice System: How one Cal Poly student is helping families affected by incarceration

Fourth year sociology student Chloe Gurgel has always had interest in helping situations she deems unjust. Through her SOC 400: Incarceration and Society class, Gurgel heard of the program ‘Get On the Bus’. According to their online mission statement, Get On the Bus “brings children and their guardians/caregivers from throughout the state of California to visit their mothers and fathers in prison.”

Gurgel recently got to take part in the organization’s Father’s Day program, stating that the event felt like it was “out of a movie”.

Hear more about the organization and Gurgel’s help within the organization during our one on one interview. 14232657_1645786469067317_2329914763441544641_n (1).jpg

Psychology student by day, Yoga teacher by night

 

Balancing more than just a Crow Pose

 

Rielly MacNeil fell in love with yoga when she stepped into her cozy, hometown studio back in Boise, Idaho.

“I knew I wanted to incorporate this way of life immediately after taking my first class,” psychology fourth year Rielly MacNeil said.

MacNeil felt a spark during her practice. Taking interest in the hobby, MacNeil pursued a 200-hour teacher training certification. Upon completion, MacNeil began to teach at the very studio that welcomed her to the world of yoga.

MacNeil has been teaching yoga for 4 years now. Having started her San Luis Obispo yoga teaching career at the Cal Poly recreation center classes, MacNeil now teaches at Spark Yoga studio.

“Yoga, just like any form of exercise, is so beneficial to your brain and body. As a student myself, coming to the studio is such a release of all the mediocre stressors we’re all consumed with,” MacNeil said.

Yoga is centered around the practice of mindfulness, a technique that refers to focusing one’s attention on their present actions and thoughts. With looming fears of midterms and homework assignments, mindfulness stresses the importance of living in the moment and squashing that anxiety.

“I struggled with anxiety growing up, mostly related to school. Attending college is already stressful enough, but being a part of clubs, having a social life, working — they all add up. Being able to come to work and ‘destress’ at the same time has been the most beneficial step in finding a balance to ease my mind,” MacNeil said.

MacNeil teaches at Spark Yoga studio Mondays at 9 am and Fridays at 5:30 pm. Her classes follow a Vinyasa flow, a sequence of yoga poses that continue through the duration of the class.

With more than 5 major studios, yoga has become an integral part of the San Luis Obispo community. The wellness lifestyle can be seen in almost every store, whether it be restaurants brandishing gluten-free and vegan options, or new holistic shops carrying a multitude of crystals and essential oils.

Spark Yoga offers a $30 for 30 days deal for new students who have never been to their studio.

 

Passion turned to craft: How one Cal Poly student transformed her hobby into a business

 

 

 

Business administration senior Jenny Hoekstra sat on her backyard deck. The golden hour sunlight struck the turquoise beads of her newly made, wire-wrapped earrings, a creation she thought up as she comfortably laid on her lime green yoga mat. Lost in the trance that is her craft, Hoekstra was in her element.

What started Jenz Jewels?

Hoekstra started her business, Jenz Jewels, her senior year of high school upon searching for a means to fundraise for a humanitarian trip to Malawi, Africa.

To raise money, Hoekstra began to create bracelets and anklets, using thread and charms for her designs. 

“I needed a way to make money and I like being creative. It basically just stuck out to me as something to do,” Hoekstra said. “I like harnessing my creativity; it’s really therapeutic.”

Realizing her love for crafting jewelry, Hoekstra began to harness her hobby, teaching herself how to wire wrap through online videos.

The artistry behind the tools

Hoekstra describes her jewelry as simplistic and minimal, representing the things she likes in life, including shells, wire and unique charms.

“I really like simplicity. That’s the type of jewelry that I tend to choose,” Hoekstra said. “I think jewelry highlights your features and everyone’s so different. People see different things in different items.”

Hoekstra is currently working towards expanding her Instagram business, using her free time to create new pieces. She finds the most solace in designing items for her close friends and family.

Hoekstra sells all her items on her business Instagram handle @jenz_jewels. Hoekstra also takes custom requests. Her pieces average about $7 per item based on the materials used and time designated.

“If I like a piece, I post it to the Instagram page and if someone wants to buy it, they’ll comment or DM me,” Hoekstra said. “If the person is in [San Luis Obispo], I’ll usually try to meet up with them to save on postage, but if not, I’ll mail it out.”

Helping the community one wrap at a time

Hoekstra makes it a mission to support small businesses in San Luis Obispo, buying most of her supplies from Beads by the Bay in Morro Bay. According to Hoekstra, San Luis Obispo is the best place for small businesses.

“[San Luis Obispo] is such a cool town to be your own entrepreneur because people really respect self-starters,” Hoekstra said.

She hopes to put more time into her business this year, acknowledging the therapeutic properties it has for her.

“It’s the main thing I do to let out my creative outlet,” Hoekstra said. “You have to take time to self-care and it’s kind of a reflection to how much self-care I take for myself. I feel like everyone should have something that they do that reflects their level of self-care.”

The restrain to abstain: the ongoing controversy of sex education

Cuesta College student Melissa Zak is a self-taught artist on mission to normalize sex. Painting on old, recycled skate decks, Zak’s artwork depicts themes of sexuality and “playful nudity.”

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Zak’s objective is to remove the suppression around the topic of sex. Her desire to open up the conversation around sex stems from her frustration with the U.S.’ current sex education and the lack of realistic narratives about sex.

“There are so many things I wish I was told and taught. It is my intention to show my sexual nature through my art and, in turn, inspire others to explore their own sexual being, sexual desires – all consensual – and have fun with it in the process,” Zak said.

Zak believes many of today’s issues with sexual harassment and misconduct stem from the limited exposure our education system places on sexual awareness.

The newest Trump administration has sparked up more debate regarding sex education. Many conservatives argue for more abstinence-based studies, which have recently garnered more funding.

One parent sat in on her child’s sex education class and live tweeted her reactions to the abstinence-based teachings.

The overarching message the mother received from the class lecture was:

Zak is part of a growing number of students and educators advocating for improved
sex education.

“I do not think sexual education is adequate in elementary or secondary school. The vast majority of public schools offer some form of sexual education curriculum, but the content varies from state to state, district to district and even from school to school within the same district,” political science professor Jean Williams said.

Williams has conducted research in the fields of gender and sex education policy. She has also published articles and books regarding sex education, abstinence and the politics of sex.

Experts conclude progressive education in European countries, in regards to the curriculum of sexual education, contributes to the lower birth rates in these countries. However, many parts of the U.S. are fixated on abstinence-only sex education. States with these programs often have higher rates of teen pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The normalization of sex-related conversation will eventually remove the forbidden nature and shame associated with sexual intercourse.

“The more educated the future generations are, the safer they can be. They are going to be experimenting/trying things when they do, so at least have them be prepared so if they choose,” Zak said.

By appealing to viewers through a visual interpretation, Zak hopes to eliminate the negative stigma surrounding sex.DSC_0360.jpg

“I want people to learn things about themselves and experiment – to be comfortable with their own sexual nature,” Zak said. “You find out so much about yourself through sex that you can’t find out through other things.”

 

Thrift Queens: How two Cal Poly students have turned “trash” into treasures

I stood in awe as I dodged colorful, avant-garde clothing articles — whirring past my face with each blink. At the middle of the pile stood Emma Norland, with a sharp glint in her eye. As she pushed back her blonde, wispy hair to get a better view of her iPhone 8, she let out an animated shriek: “My ‘Wrangler’ shirt sold for triple it’s worth!”

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Norland’s backyard is home to the two girls’ business — storing duffle bags, coolers and luggage pieces full of unique finds | Sonya Jindal

Fashion has become a race with no finish line in sight. The need to stay current with popular trends have led to a vile throw-away cycle in the fashion industry. Serial thrifters, such as Norland, are helping slow down this “fast fashion” process. According to renowned style website Fashionista, resale is expected to be bigger than “fast fashion” within the next 10 years.

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Created by Sonya Jindal. Statistics from theindependent.uk

Norland, alongside close friend Sarah Raykhman, have meshed together their artistic minds to create their own clothing business — thrifting and ‘upcycling’ clothing pieces for the fashion forward.

“[Norland] and I take thrifted pieces from our personal closets or thrift stores and upcycle them online for people who are either too lazy or don’t like thrifting but appreciate vintage fashion,” Raykhman said.

Reports from Trash is for Tossers — an online, zero-waste blog dedicated to eliminating unnecessary waste — state Americans throw 25 billion dollars pounds of clothing each year. The two girls help this vicious cycle by selling their items on the online app and website DePop.

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The two run their business out of Norland’s apartment backyard | Sonya Jindal

The process

According to their mission statement, DePop is an online forum “where the world’s creatives come to buy, sell and discover the most inspiring and unique things.”

Raykhman created the DePop handle @sarahlol back in high school. However, the two have shared the account and collaborated on the aesthetics since January 2018.

While out thrifting for their own clothes, the business partners keep an eye out for trendy or vintage brand-name items. Once purchased, they take turns modeling and taking pictures of their new finds, spending time styling the item in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

“It’s very laid back and everything is up to us. We get to be creative — where we take photos and how we caption our items — but we’re still responsible for always being available to customers with questions and shipping things on time so that we maintain our good reviews,” Norland says.

Why it matters

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The business process is lighthearted and fun for the two girls, always brandishing a gleeful smile through every step. | Sonya Jindal

Reselling clothes have become a new means to staying trendy, while keeping your wallet intact. Apps, websites and even some stores have bought into this trend, allowing customers to use their interfaces to buy and sell their own clothes.

While helping on finances, thrifting has become the new way to help save the planet — green is the new stylish.