Purvi Kunwar

“I have been a resident of San Mateo County for more than 20 years and a Bay Area resident for more than 40 years. I have a professional background in public health and education and a passion to help young people thrive. Poems and essays are often how I make sense of the world and myself. I find peace in nature and am a Certified Forest Therapy Guide and am earning my Educational Doctorate in Learning Design and Leadership at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.”

Poems on Belonging

LAST TIME I CHECKED

Last time I checked
I was an immigrant child of nine, of non-white color

Last time I checked
Some kids made fun of my name and even said “Go Back to where you came from”

Last time I checked
So many more invited me to play four-square & hop-scotch

Last time I checked
I had trouble aligning my two worlds – neither felt like home to me

Last time I checked
Adults from both worlds encouraged me to celebrate both, take the best of both and give back to both

Last time I checked
There were always people who had more than me and me, who had more than many

Last time I checked
The world wasn’t perfectly fair, but people in general were good and most willing to help me

Last time I checked
I wasn’t afraid of voicing my opinions even if they were contrary to the majority

Last time I checked
I must have crossed an invisible line where my privilege was in moral contradiction to the lives of the needy and my opinions verging on un-acceptable

Last time I checked
I still believe most people want the same thing – a purpose, a livelihood, love, family & friends

Last time I checked
The United States of America, founded imperfectly not only on the shoulders of the enslaved and on the lands of the Native Americans, but on the backs of immigrants from around the world – still offers us All, her children a chance to live better lives together

Last time I checked
I still am that immigrant child believing we, Americans, of every skin color, ethnicity, immigration status, religious affiliation, gender preference, political leaning & socio-economic access will continue to uphold “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness” for All.

WHERE HAS OUR GRACE AND COURAGE GONE?

Hyper connectivity yet detached humanity

Gone is our Grace for God, Grace for All Humans on Earth

Courage is no longer visible in Western Mirrors

Not in our leaders, not in our elites, not in ourselves 

Each and everyone of us too greedy and fearful to really get involved

A Million reasons why we shouldn’t

Only one why we should… it is the right thing to do 

We tell ourselves — we don’t have an option

When we all know we do and we choose not to 

We have collectively forgotten the lessons of history

And history has shown — lessons forgotten will have to be learned again 

Appeasement of Evil, Fear of the repercussions won’t stop the brutality being unleashed upon the innocent 

Only a matter of time before our lack of grace and courage comes knocking on our doors.

Copyright © 2022 by Purvi Kunwar. Used with permission of the author.

Civic Engagement

Purvi Kunwar served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Menlo School from 2011 to 2017. Causes she supports include education, disaster and humanitarian relief, economic empowerment, health, and science and technology, among others.