About The Program
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PUBLIC STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PRABHJOT SINGH
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Fellowship Association of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
September 25, 2013
New York City
In response to the violent attack against Dr. Prabhjot Singh (Soros Fellow 2005), the Board of Trustees, Fellowship Association and staff of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans have issued the following statement in support of Dr. Singh, condemning the attack and promoting understanding about the important role immigrants play in building American society.
Dr. Prabhjot Singh, who was violently attacked this past Saturday night in the New York City neighborhood he calls home, regularly writes and speaks passionately against discrimination. When in August 2012, a gunman stormed a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and opened fire, killing six worshippers and injuring others, Prabhjot took to the pages of the New York Times and urged our government to more accurately document hate crimes. He also encouraged individual citizens to break down divisions by making concrete efforts to extend compassion, foster cultural awareness, and embrace a deep appreciation for America's diversity.
By training, Prabhjot is a medical doctor and healthcare advocate for low-income communities worldwide. But he has moved beyond his profession to fight bigotry, racial profiling, and hate crimes against Sikhs and other vulnerable groups. The greatest irony of the attack is that while his assailants labeled Prabhjot a "terrorist," he is an exemplar of an engaged American, one who uses his skills to protect and advance open dialogue, justice, and freedom - the most American of values. For this reason, we are proud to count him part of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a community of young first-generation Americans who contribute actively to American society.
American Sikhs, Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians are not the only victims of hate crimes in this country. Just last month, a twenty-one-year-old transgender woman was killed a few blocks away from the site of the assault on Prabhjot. Too many people in our country hurt each other on the basis of hatred, fear, and stereotypes of those whose race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, physical abilities, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity differ from their own.
We in the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship community know that the United States of America benefits from its rich diversity, and that shared understanding is not only possible, but a living reality. Fellows are academics and teachers, artists and engineers, doctors and lawyers, architects and musicians. Our skin colors cover the full range of the ethnic spectrum, from pearly white to jet-black. We wear crosses, turbans, yarmulkes, hijabs, or no religious garments at all. We draw our ancestry from every corner of the earth. We hold contrasting political views and come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. And, most important, we are united by an unyielding belief in equality, opportunity, freedom, and the enduring principle that our country is strengthened, not weakened, by our differences and disagreements. Like generations of Americans before us, we have learned that being American is not about how we look but the values we share.
The attack against Prabhjot directly contradicts these quintessentially American values. Yet we are inspired by his example. In the aftermath of the attack, he has only reinforced his message of education, engagement, and awareness, by calling for dialogue with his attackers - not for retribution or division. He invited them to come to his gurdwara, or place of worship. He wants to know them and understand them, and to be known by them.
Prabhjot reminds us that it is our shared responsibility as Americans to nurture compassion and understanding, to assert our shared humanity and to reject hate and fear. We stand by his message.
Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists, established their fellowship program for New Americans in 1997 because they wished to "give back" to the country that had afforded them and their children such great opportunities and felt a fellowship program was an appropriate vehicle. They also believed that assisting young New Americans at critical points in their educations was an unmet need. Finally, they wished to call attention of all Americans to the extensive and diverse contributions of New Americans to the quality of life in this country.
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellows Association (PDSFA) is the organization of current and former recipients of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. PDSFA seeks to develop and deepen friendships, professional relationships, and mentoring connections between current fellows and alumni to strengthen the fabric of the immigrant community in the United States and the recognition of the vital and longstanding contribution of New Americans to our country.
Paul Soros passed away on Saturday June 15, 2013 at the age of 87 in the family residence on Fifth Avenue, New York. This is a profoundly sad occasion for the Soros family, for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans Program, and for the community of 475 Soros Fellows. A community that he, in close collaboration with Daisy, founded and nurtured.
The founding and character of the Program have been informed by Paul's inspiring personal story, his commitment to American constitutional democracy, and his visionary philanthropy.
As an 18-year-old in Hungary in 1944, Paul assumed a false identity and survived the Holocaust era. When the Soviets invaded Budapest, he was arrested, became a Russian prisoner of war, and escaped while in transit to Russia. A member of the Hungarian Olympic ski team in 1948, he defected, initially to Austria and subsequently to the United States. His experiences under both Nazi and Communist regimes awakened in him a powerful and enduring commitment to the American constitution and Bill of Rights. He believed that active and informed citizenship is essential to the protection of our democracy. And he was convinced that immigrants and others who have recently achieved citizenship have a special responsibility to support and defend our constitutional system.
As an extremely promising young engineering student in New York City - he met his wife-to-be, Daisy, at International House - Paul struggled to afford graduate study. A Master's degree from Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, however, launched his distinguished career as a creative, innovative, and highly accomplished civil engineer. His innovative ideas, and his determination to see them implemented, transformed port design worldwide.
Paul and Daisy's lives as immigrants informed and shaped their decision to fund and personally support a national graduate fellowship program that helps launch careers of New Americans. It supports individuals whose creativity and drive suggest that they have special promise of making distinctive contributions to American life. It recognizes that such individuals can be found at more and less distinguished institutions throughout the country. And it emphasizes and encourages active citizenship among its Fellows. Paul was especially proud of the contributions that Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows have already made to American life. They, and all of us who play roles in implementing his vision, mourn his passing and pay tribute to the enduring legacy of his wisdom and philanthropy.
A Memorial Service honoring Paul's life will be held on Thursday, June 27th at 11:00 AM at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Fellows and alums are encouraged to attend this service.
A New York Times obituary detailing his life story and many contributions is available on line. You can read it at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/business/paul-soros-shipping-innovator-dies-at-87.html?hp&_r=0
In addition, a death notice inserted by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship Program appears in today's Times. You can read it at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=paul-soros&pid=165388237#fbLoggedOut
Please send any expressions of condolences and appreciation to Daisy and or Jeffrey to:
Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships For New Americans
224 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
News & Updates
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