My job could be accurately interpreted as an interviewer in some regards. And I’m very comfortable with my role. I gather details about your life — much of which you have shared with no one else — and I promise to keep it to myself and use it only to solve the puzzle(s) troubling you.

Occasionally, an interviewee decides to stir trouble by reversing roles. Sometimes it’s meant to establish a human connection, and other times it’s completely inappropriate. The ones that are memorable, however, are the ones that remind me I represent.

I had just finished speaking with and documenting the story of an Ethiopian woman when she pulled a role-reversal by asking me where my family was from. I was initially taken aback by the expression of interest. “My family originates from India,” I answered. “And which part of India? Which state?” she eagerly asked. Whoa, I thought. She didn’t even give me a second to let me get the interview back on my terms but she seemed genuine. I smiled as I replied “Punjab.” She glanced at my wrist and squinted at my ID tag. “Punjab? What religion do you follow?” The smile remained on my face. “I’m Sikh. I practice Sikhism. Have you heard of it?” Her eyes widened as she nodded her head. “Oh, the honorable Sikhs of Punjab. How could I forget them? I remember how they helped protect our people and train our armies alongside the Brits. The Sikhs made up almost the entire army and thank goodness they did! How wonderful it is for me to be speaking with you.”

The smile that was on my face washed over my heart.

Sikh men represent through the bold twists and turns of their turbans and their flowing beards. Some men and women repreSENT! with kirpans and a permeating spirit. I represent in softer ways: through my pinned up uncut hair, the steel kara on my wrist, and my name. But although it may be soft it doesn’t mean people don’t take notice. Whether bold or soft representing is representing.

Sikhs continue to conjure up steadfast images in the minds of many. Let us continue to represent in memorable and positive ways. How do you represent?

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