Jai Jinendra! In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic and an international conversation around racial justice, YJA, like each of you, has been striving to adapt to a changing reality. To provide young Jains with a medium for exploration, learning, and discussion, we are excited to announce YJA Day 2020 on Saturday, July 11th. In keeping with the original theme for the 2020 YJA Convention, we will be #ProgressingWithPurpose through a variety of online programming. With an incredible keynote, engaging social activities, and an inspiring roster of guest speakers composed of leaders, activists, and experts, we look forward to seeing you and your #yjalove — virtually!
Thank you to our co-sponsors: Jain Society of North Texas and Jain Center of New Jersey
Maulik Pancholy is an award-winning actor, author and activist.
He is known for his comedic turns on television playing Jonathan on NBC's critically acclaimed 30 Rock, Sanjay on Showtime's Weeds, and Neal on NBC's Whitney. He is the voice of Baljeet on Disney's Phineas and Ferb, and the title voice of Sanjay on Nickelodeon's Sanjay and Craig – the first lead Indian American character on a network cartoon. On stage, he starred opposite Matthew Broderick and Martin Short in Broadway's It's Only A Play, opposite Ed Harris in Good for Otto, and recently completed the Broadway run of Grand Horizons.
In October 2019, Pancholy released his first book, The Best at It (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins). It was named a 2020 Stonewall Honor Book, a 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the American Library Association's Booklist. Drawn from his own experience, The Best at It is about a 12-year-old, gay, Indian American Boy coming into his own. Kirkus raved, "Every character in the story is nuanced…The protagonist's devastatingly honest voice pulls readers deeply into a fast-paced journey."
A longtime advocate for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and LGBTQIA+ communities, he is the recipient of an Asian American Arts Alliance Award, the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award, and was named to Out Magazine's Top 100 list. In 2014, he was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President's Advisory Commission on AAPIs. During his three-year tenure, he spearheaded the launch of the anti-bullying campaign ActToChange.org, an organization which he continues to Chair today. Act To Change is now a national nonprofit dedicated to ending bullying for AAPI youth and fostering a world where all young people can celebrate their differences.
Learn more about our speakers below by clicking on their pictures
Saturday, July 11
*All times are in your local timezone ()
This yoga session for all levels will give you a taste of various yoga fundamentals: pranayama/breath work, surya namaskar, an energizing vinyasa flow, and a soothing cool-down. The session will strike the balance between invigorating your body, grounding your mind, and drawing your attention inwards to the soul. Start the day with your best foot forward, literally!
What to bring: something comfortable to wear, yoga mat
Optional: towel, yoga blocks, belt, bolster
Current events have been fast paced and divisive, leaving many searching for Jain ideals such as ahimsa, aparigraha, and anekantvada in the world around them. The respected Tejal Shah of Mumbai will give a pravachan to help the parents and youth of YJA better understand and adapt to the current events of the world through the lens of Jain teachings and scripture.
Together we will examine the events of 2020 through the lens of Jainism's 4 auxiliary bhavanas: Karuna (compassion), Pramod (appreciation), Maitri (friendship), and Madhyastha (neutrality). For example, we use the lens of appreciation when thinking about health care workers in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Similarly, the lens of friendship can be applied when thinking about being "stuck at home" and truly understanding the value of friendship during a time when we're seperated from one another. With memes, pop culture references, and articles, our hosts will be sure to capture your attention and engage in thoughtful discussion during this interactive session.
The fabric of racism is inextricably woven and constructed into the founding principles of the United States. Racism was done and it can be undone through effective anti-racist education with, and in accountability to the communities most impacted by racism. How to divest from racism at all levels, as non-Black people and particularly a minority group and what should South Asian allyship look like? Why is it important for other minority groups to show solidarity?
- build a clear understanding of key concepts such as racial equity and structural racism
- learn to talk about race constructively within their organizations and with their constituents
- gain tools and practices for counteracting racial bias in their work and practices
- identify opportunities and next steps for applying concepts and strategies to advance racial equity
- develop and commit a call to action: what are you already doing, and what more can you do
In his first novel The Best At It, Maulik tells the story of Rahul Kapoor, a South Asian boy navigating through middle school and overcoming the expectation that he must always be the best. Through the use of vivid, nuanced characters, Maulik tackles multiple forms of discrimination head on in a way we can all try to learn from and relate to.
Join author and actor, Maulik Pancholy, for a live wide-ranging Keynote Conversation as he discusses his own life experiences and how they shaped his acting career (Phineas and Ferb, 30 Rock, etc.), anti-bullying campaign, Act to Change, and other professional endeavours (the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under President Barack Obama, etc.). We’re looking forward to this candid conversation and are excited to have you join us on YJA Day, July 11th. This conversation with Maulik will be moderated by YJA member Mihir Shah.
It's time to put those convention hotel escape plans to good use! We have built our first ever Virtual YJA Escape Room! Work together with your team to adventure through YJA-themed puzzles and riddles to see if you've got what it takes to get out. Get ready to put your thinking caps on and put your teamwork to the test! Bring some friends together to form a team, or meet new friends in our virtual experience that will be sure to challenge and excite. Join in on this thriller right after our YJA Day 2020 Keynote Conversation.
Health Science and Technology Advisor for Crisis Management and Strategy in the Office of the Secretary of State, Dr. Ambika Bumb will share what she has learned from doing cutting-edge nanomedicine research in academia to leading a biotech startup in industry to coordinating global pandemic response in the government. Jainism says that what you consider the truth is only part of the picture and the complete truth is obtained through multiple perspectives and being open-minded to possibilities. We often consider the practice of anekantvad while interacting with others, but perhaps less so with respect to oneself. As South Asian Americans, culturally we lean towards having a kind of tunnel vision with a defined year-by-year plan for our careers. Ambika will describe and answer questions about her experiences with societal impact being the driver of her professional journey.
Where does faith align with the push for justice, and where does it diverge? How do justice-based faith advocates interpret traditional teachings to support advancing justice? What challenges do faith leaders face when speaking with their own communities? What role does non-violence play in these conversations - and is there something even more relevant to social justice? Join us for a conversation with social justice leaders from Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and Jain faiths as we tackle these questions and more. Our insightful panelists include Ani Zonneveld (Muslims for Progressive Values), Simran Jeet Singh (@sikhprof), Hari Venkatachalam (Sadhana), and Anjli Shah (Jains for Justice).
Vivek Maru, founder of Namati, will describe the efforts of people directly affected by environmental destruction—small hold farmers in Sierra Leone, fisher people on the coast of India, families in an industrial zone of Baltimore—to exercise their rights. He will weave a story about how these struggles are connected to each other, to Jain philosophy, and to the future of the planet. As a group, we will map out concrete ways each one of us can advance environmental justice.
When Vaibhav Jain and Parag Mehta got married last year, their wedding made headlines around the world. Not only was it a same-sex wedding performed in accordance with Jain customs, but it also served as a model for how families and communities can evolve when they lead with love and compassion. The video of the toast by Parag's dad at their wedding has gone viral and become an exemplar of parental acceptance. Hear their story, find out how they've been able to shape both their co-existing Jain and LGBTQ+ identities, and learn how to be champions for equality in your own life.
We're bringing together the best of YJA's community in a showcase that will be sure to wow. Come watch your fellow YJAers show off their passions, hobbies, talents, jokes, and just about anything else in short video bits. If you're interested in being showcased, send in your content and information via this application. In the second half of the event, we'll be showing off a special surprise for YJAWorld that our team has been working on. Be sure to tune in for an amazing show to kick off our nighttime programming for YJA Day 2020.
A Convention staple, ice breakers are a great way to get to know each other and meet people from all over. While we can't get to know each other in person, get ready for a virtual-twist on a classic game. B.I.N.G.O. (Breaking Ice ‘N Greeting Others) will have you making connections and making friends in no time!
Join us for JNF Awards in the evening, where the winning team of the JNF House Challenge will be announced, as well as the charity they are selecting! Additionally, we'll do superlatives based on the activities over the past few weeks!
To close out a fun-filled and inspiring YJA Day, join us for a free-for-all Slumber Party with your YJA friends, new and old. From Skribbl to Code Names to One Night, we'll have breakout rooms for a variety of games and activities. In addition, there will also be rooms to meet and hangout with friends from all across the country! Get your PJs on and be ready to pull an all-nighter (or as late as you can stay awake)!
Note: programming may be subject to change.