Sikh Rhodes scholar brings first turbaned Sikh to 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, the world’s oldest and most famous and formidable debating society. 

“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. I am deeply honored 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.” 

Singh served as the Women’s Officer in the Oxford Union and as the Graduate President of the Oxford Sikh Society. Singh also is a Rhodes Scholar, Truman Scholar, and Diana Award Recipient. 

Ravi Singh Khalsa was one of the hundreds of speakers selected for Oxford Union President 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+ year history, Ravi Singh is the first Sikh speaker to speak individually on the Sikh faith at the institution. 

At the Oxford Union, Ravi Singh Khalsa was greeted by Sikh Society students, Oxford Union members, among many at-large Oxford students as well as local neighbors. 

“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,” says Emma, an Oxford-based student and Oxford Union member attending the event. 

Ravi Singh Khalsa spoke on Khalsa Aid, the world’s largest humanitarian organization with the tagline “recognizing the human race as one,” 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.


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