Fostering Student Learning: The Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund

The Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund was established by the Toor family in 2017, and in the short period of its existence has already done much to enrich the experiences of UBC Punjabi Studies students, providing various opportunities and resources to explore Punjabi language, culture, and heritage at the University of British Columbia.

The Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund contributed to the enhancement of student learning by fostering community-based learning environments. As a direct result of its support, undergraduate students in W2017 were able to interact with guest community leaders, speakers and scholars in their upper-year Punjabi oral history class: ASIA 475, “Documenting Punjabi Canada.” Students in that class, and beyond, were able to work directly with Asian Canadian documentary filmmakers like Ali Kazimi, who visited UBC to screen his new film and to interact with students about their own documentaries. The Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund also facilitated the educational and career development of both undergraduate and graduate-level students. I myself was a beneficiary: during the 2017W session, the Fund supported my role as a Teaching Assistant in support of the community-engaged activities in ASIA 475. This allowed me to gain valuable teaching experience that would not have been possible without the Toor family’s support. This was valuable experience for me, as I move on to law school this fall. The Fund has also allowed a UBC PhD student to participate in a prestigious fellowship abroad by offsetting her travel costs. These are just a few examples of how the Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund has played an important role in enhancing Punjabi-related UBC experiences. UBC Asian Studies is grateful to the Toor family for their generous support and dedication to the UBC Punjabi Studies Program, made in loving memory of their son, Onkarbir Singh Toor (BSc’16), who took part in the oral history program at that time embedded in PUNJ 300. The Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enhancement Fund has made a real difference at UBC and for students.

by Navneet Aujla