A Sikh Rhodes Scholar brought the first turbaned Sikh to speak on the Sikh faith at the Oxford Union.

Serene Singh, aged 25, a Sikh Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford, recently brought Ravi Singh Khalsa, the first ever turbaned Sikh to speak on Sikhism at the Oxford Union.

Ms Singh said: “Being at a place like Oxford University means I am constantly surrounding myself with current and future leaders, world-shakers, and changemakers.

“It comes with a responsibility as a student to ensure that I tell the story of my community to my peers who may not know about Sikhi or have ever met a Sikh before myself.

“Education is the first step toward challenging hate and bias in our world today.

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“I am deeply honoured to have had the opportunity to bring someone who represents Sikh values so intrinsically and can inspire this next generation of students to learn about Sikh principles and our Sikhi way of life.”

Ms Singh served as the women’s officer in the Oxford Union and as the Graduate President of the Oxford Sikh Society.

She is also a Rhodes Scholar, Truman Scholar and Diana Award recipient.

Ravi Singh Khalsa was one of the hundreds of speakers selected for Oxford Union Presidents Michael Akolade Ayodeji’s term from April 2022 until the summer of 2022.

Although it is unconfirmed how many Sikhs – students or guests – have spoken at the Union in its 200 plus year history, Mr Khalsa is the first Sikh speaker to speak individually on the Sikh faith at the institution.

At the Oxford Union, Mr Khalsa was greeted by Sikh Society students, Oxford Union members, among many at-large Oxford students and local neighbours.

Oxford-based student and Oxford Union member Emma Metcalf said: “I was so fascinated by him the entire time.

“I learned a lot about the Sikh community and the work he does for humanity really inspires me.”

Mr Khalsa spoke on Khalsa Aid, a humanitarian aid organisation, his work in tens of crisis-stricken areas worldwide, and his relationship with his Sikh faith, as well as what it means to be a Sikh.

The full keynote and interview will be available publicly on the Oxford Union Youtube in a few weeks.

The Oxford Union is the world’s foremost debating society, having seen renowned political speakers such as Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry give speeches in its hall.

Additionally, the venue has played host to sporting legends like Diego Maradona and George Foreman, music stars such as Elton John, and literary greats including Stephen Fry, Salman Rushdie and Phillip Pullman.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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