By Lakhpreet Kaur
Meet Shanu Jodhie Kaur of West London, an artist who’s good with paint brushes and guns!
Shanu is a 23-year-old artist who is also a Provisional Adult Instructor for the UK Army Cadet Force. The Army Cadet Force (ACF) is a British organization sponsored by the Ministry of Defense that trains teens around military themes while promoting achievement, discipline, and citizenship.
So how did Shanu become a trainer for the ACF? She took time to share her unique story with Kaur Life.
KL: How did you get involved with the UK Army Cadet Force?
I joined up around 12 years old. A neighbor I looked up to was already a member and he encouraged me to join.
KL: Why did you get involved with the UK Army Cadet Force?
I was new to the area and was keen to make friends.
KL: What’s your official title?
I’m now a Provisional Adult Instructor. I came back as an adult to teach teens.
KL: What have you learned from your time with them?
Apart from priceless life-skills, I’ve learned to be confident, motivated, and disciplined.
KL: What do you do for them?
We teach teens adventure training, using a map and compass to navigate efficiently, shooting, skill at arms, drill and turnout, and much more. It’s great seeing kids come out of their shells to work together.
KL: What’s the coolest thing that you’ve experienced while being with the ACF?
I’ve worked in many different fields but never have I been welcomed into an institution so warmly. I’ve never been treated differently or discriminated against in the ACF.
KL: How does your Sikhi influence your work for them?
The Khalsa is itself an Army. Sikhi and ACF fit well together for me. I can learn skills every Khalsa should know whilst serving my community (seva) and giving back to kids. I use the Chardi Kala spirit and sipahi aspect of Sikhi in the ACF. Staying positive around kids is so important for their self-esteem.
KL: How do other members of the UK Army Cadet Force interact with you being a Sikh? Being a woman?
I always get questions but mostly out of curiosity. I wear my turban as a part of my uniform. Being a woman has never been an issue; more and more women are joining up. A high percentage of young cadets are female. In fact we need more female instructors!
KL: Do you have any stories about how your Sikhi has “come in handy” while being at the Army Cadet Force?
Keeping Amrit Vela has meant that getting up at the crack of dawn for drill practice or an exercise has never been an issue! Dealing with teens is never easy, naam simran is great to use in those situations where it gets just a little too chaotic.
KL: Shanu blends her Sikhi with every aspect of her life and is able to develop it while serving in the ACF. So, how did she develop such a strong spirit of Sikhi?
KL: How did you learn about Sikhi?
A lot of books and eventually sikhnet.com. I started developing an interest in Sikhi before I turned 16. I lived in a non-Asian area in my teens so I was curious to learn more about my ethnic background.
KL: How would you describe your relationship with Sikhi?
Resplendent. I can never get enough.
KL: What do you think the biggest struggle for Kaurs is at the moment?
I’ve never liked to look at life as a struggle. Ardaas and staying in chardi kala constantly remind me that whatever doesn’t break us, makes us stronger. So I guess the biggest struggle for a Kaur is negativity. If you have the self-motivation to do whatever it is you desire, don’t let anything or anyone bring you down.
KL: What advice would you give to young Kaurs wanting to pursue unusual career paths?
Believe in yourself and your Guru. Sikhi has always been about egality. So believe that your Guru is always there for support, advice, and encouragement.
KL: What advice would you give to young Kaurs struggling with keeping bana/saroop?
Practice doing naam simran. Anytime something brings you down, naam simran will help you. It’s like gold dust.
KL: Who are your Sikh role models?
I’ve always found Sikh athlete Fauja Singh to be so inspiring. He embodies the power of positivity. Bhagat Puran Singh who established the Pingalwara charity in Punjab. He truly embodies the spirit of seva: selfless service to humanity without discrimination.
KL: Do you have any Kaurs that you look up to?
The Kaurs in my sangat are always inspiring me. Mai Bhago who lived the Sant Sipahi aspects of Sikhi and really embodies undying love for the Guru. Maharani Jind Kaur, who never gave up, not even in her last breaths, in her fight against the British.
KL: I hope you enjoyed reading Shanu’s journey and found it as inspirational as I did. There’s so much to learn from her spirit and optimism. If there’s a Kaur you look up to and think her story would be cool to share, send us an email!