Tag Archives: Fremont

Fremont-Based Choreographer’s BollyHeels is Challenging Heteronormativity in Dance

South Asian Americans are redefining traditionally heteronormative notions of gender and sexuality. Although the culture is still well on its way towards acceptance of LGBTQ+ identities, Fremont choreographer Amit Patel is bringing Desis — and the dance community as a whole — in the direction of progress. 

Patel, who began learning Bollywood dance when was just 10 years old, is a professional choreographer for the Bliss Dance and Mona Khan companies. From performing at national events like the Indiaspora Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C to bagging a spot among the top 48 of America’s Got Talent out of 70,000 acts, Patel has played a major role in the representation of Desi dance on global platforms. His Youtube channel, where he regularly uploads choreography videos for both English and Hindi songs, boasts a whopping 184,000 subscribers. He was a part of Lilly Singh’s historic A Little Late With Lilly Singh’s premiere and a pioneer of Eastern Contemporary, a genre of Patel’s own making where he fuses South Asian and Western styles of dance. He has been featured in KQED’s series If Cities Could Dance.

Patel has been opening doors and bridging barriers for what seems like his whole career, and his latest “Bollywood Heels” projects, where he dances in heels to challenge heteronormative stereotypes, are opening up the dance space for LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with India Currents, Patel chronicles both his journey as a dancer and as a gay Indian American man. 

Image from If Cities Could Dance (Courtesy of KQED)

“There are so many different ways to create social change, from working in politics to working in media,” Patel says. “So for me, when I finally decided to pursue [dance] full-time, what interested me the most was artwork..that helped push the conversation.”  

A Fremont native, he reflected on his upbringing in a ‘tech’ family — one of the many South Asians attempting to reach their version of the American Dream in the Silicon Valley. Bollywood gave Patel the freedom to both connect with his culture as well as a liberating, cathartic mode of self-expression. His love for dance began with the Mona Khan Dance Company, when he joined Khan’s classes held in Milpitas’s India Community Center at eleven years old. 

“Everyone has a different origin story,” says Patel. “There is a huge conversation about identity and what makes “you” you, and what Mona provided [in] her dance company was this opportunity to explore our roots without having to give up the daily things that made us American.” 

It was with Khan’s dance company that Patel learned to fuse Indian music with contemporary techniques, creating the medleys that lie at the heart of the Eastern Contemporary genre. With Eastern Contemporary, Patel helped create that ‘happy’, welcoming space for cultural diffusion in dance. With “Bollywood Heels”, his blend of Kathak and Jazz, he aspires to do the same — this time, for dancers of all genders and sexualities. Patel was inspired to initiate change after coming to terms with Bollywood’s internalized heteronormativity. 

“As a kid watching Bollywood, I didn’t necessarily question Bollywood,” Patel told KQED Arts, reflecting on his childhood experiences. “All those traditional gender roles and expectations of a male dancer, that I would also be placed in. I didn’t necessarily resonate with that.” 

Bollywood Heels seeks to remove these expectations in dance, allowing artists to unabashedly express who they are. 

“I just intended to create a space where any queer person that wants to come can explore this movement without judgement,” Patel mentions in the same interview with KQED Arts. “And, also tie that in with culture, because in our South Asian community, that never existed.”

To learn more about Amit Patel, follow his Instagram and subscribe to his Youtube channel


Kanchan Naik is a senior at the Quarry Lane School in Dublin, California. She is the 2019-2020 Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton, as well as the Director of Media Outreach for youth nonprofit Break the Outbreak. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, The Roar. Her work appears in the Apprentice Writer, Polyphony Lit, Brown Girl Magazine, Parallax Literary Magazine, among many others. 

Teens Ask Us to Save Our Saviours

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, a Bellarmine College Prep junior, Rishabh Saxena, like everyone else, became increasingly concerned. He wanted to do his part and started the Save your Saviors campaign in early March to equip healthcare workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help them win this fight.

Around the same time, Shivina Chugh, a junior at MSJHS in Fremont, was becoming increasingly worried as well. Rishabh and Shivina joined forces to help raise awareness for this cause as both their moms have been at the front line fighting this war and wanted to do their part to save people’s lives at the front line. After researching how the risks faced by frontline workers could be mitigated, they found that, in addition to other PPE, reusable and washable bio-suits helped keep the infection rate low among the healthcare workers in South Korea. Their research indicated that these bio-suits were already used in a few emergency rooms in hospitals across the United States but were not readily available.

They ran the idea of sourcing the bio-suits by their moms, a few Intensive Care Unit directors, and infection control personnel in a few hospitals who saw this project’s great value. At this point, they started contacting a few more hospitals to explore an interest in bio-suit as a way to increase protection for their staff. Not only was this idea well-received by the hospitals they contacted, but they also started getting referrals.  

Health Professionals wearing Bio-Suits given by Save Your Saviours.

Seeing a high demand for bio suits and other PPE, they decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds. Fremont Bridge Rotary Club also contributed to this cause by raising money for this project. Together they raised $4,050 and were able to work with a few vendors to get bio-suits and other PPE promptly and pilot it in a few hospitals.

These bio-suits were delivered to Medical staff in ICU’S of Kindred Hospital and St. Rose Hospital. In addition, handing over bio suits to Alameda Highland County hospital in Oakland, CA, was immensely satisfying to the team because these residents provide care for the indigent patient population and, with bio suits, could avoid the high risk of catching infections that can prove fatal.

Dr. Steven Sackrin, at Alameda Highland County Hospital, said, “I want to extend our sincere thanks to your organization, Save your Saviors. The contribution of personal protective equipment is deeply appreciated. The bio suits are a particularly great addition to our supplies. The bio suits offer a superior degree of protection. It is so nice that they can be cleaned and reused. Most of our patients already have immense challenges, medical and especially non-medical. And our environment is already a bit threadbare and not on many people’s radar. But a sense of mission generally infuses the facility. It was so great that your organization was willing to share its efforts and contributions with this institution. Thank you very, very much for your generosity, thoughtfulness, and the grit/work that it took to accomplish what you have done.”

Dr. Evelyn Nakagawa at Kindred hospital echoed similar sentiments “Save your Saviors has provided bio suits that offer an extra layer of safety and help healthcare workers focus on their work with peace.

Shivina and Rishabh give materials to Highland Hospital.

Save your Saviors campaign initially raised money and helped save lives of Health care workers to buy Bio suits and launch them in several Intensive care units of Bay Area Hospitals. After finishing their first phase of helping Bay Area Health care workers, they have furthered this campaign to help some other segments of society who are greatly impacted in this COVID crisis time. They have done several drives to raise money to provide food and personal items required for the homeless shelter and domestic violence survivors. They are immensely thankful to several families in the Bay area who generously contributed to such a noble cause. One of the drives with their contributions, approximately worth $2000, has been shared with the vulnerable survivors in dire need.

Whether they are health care workers or underprivileged people in society like domestic violence survivors or homeless shelters, the fight to save people’s lives continues forward by these students’ efforts. They continue with their efforts during this unprecedented time. You can help their efforts here


Shivina Chugh is a rising senior at Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA. She is very active in her school clubs, Relay for Life, DECA, Peer Support Group and is the co-founder of the Save Your Saviors, which has helped the medical community during times of COVID-19 and continues to do so. 
Rishabh Saxena is a senior at Bellarmine College Prep School in San Jose, CA. He grew up building lego puzzles, tennis, and skiing. He is passionate about helping people. He founded Save your Saviors to serve the community. 

St. Jude Children’s Hospital Named Official Charity Partner for 2020 South Asian Spelling Bee’s Regional Competitions

is the official charity partner of the South Asian Spelling Bee’s (SASB) virtual regional events on Sunday, Aug. 23, in Seattle, Washington, and on Sunday, Aug. 30, in Fremont, California. 

SASB is an annual spelling bee in the United States for children of South Asian descent. Founded in 2008, the event has become the essential gateway for success at the popular Scripps National Spelling Bee. In fact, 11 of the 15 Scripps champions are alumni of the SASB since 2008. This year’s installment of the SASB will be held virtually across six regions, whose winners will get a chance to compete at the finals in September.

Just like SASB, St. Jude has a deeply held commitment to education not only as a research institution, but also as a children’s hospital responsible for providing long-term care to childhood cancer patients. For children undergoing treatment, the St. Jude School Program by Chili’s not only offers a familiar routine with St. Jude teachers offering one-on-one instruction for K-12 students, but also provides patients with a feeling of being in lockstep with the outside world.  In addition to K-12, students from around the world also have an opportunity to attend the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, further displaying the importance of education within the core values of St. Jude.

 Because of generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – so they can focus on helping their child live. St. Jude also freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, so every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.

This is what makes a difference for patients like Smyrna and her family. At St. Jude, Smyrna’s treatment for medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, included radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Smyrna celebrated the end of her treatment with a No More Chemo party, surrounded by her care team, friends and family.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a humanitarian effort supported by millions of Americans of all faiths and backgrounds united in their desire to help St. Jude continue its mission: Finding cures. Saving children.® Because together, nothing is impossible.

Donor support for the patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital brings hope and comfort to their lives. Share a sweet message today by sending a patient art-inspired card to fill their day with happiness.  

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on TwitterInstagram and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.

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Ink & Metal Gives Back to Community

Ink and Metal of American High School is on a mission to bring STEM education to students in the Bay Area, combine their efforts in times of need, and inspire students through their outreach.

How could they help the most people while bringing many people together?

Rishi Gurjars tell us: “Once we decided to raise money for a food bank, we started looking for food banks. The Alameda County Community Food Bank really stood out to us when we saw the impact and influence they have on the county. They distribute food, support Alameda Community’s youth, help underprivileged families, and work with all the levels of the government to achieve their vision. The ACCFB also partners up with organizations like Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation and our robotics team, Ink and Metal. Their hunger-relief efforts were very inspiring for our team.” 

Ink and Metal Team

“In order to raise $5,300, we had massive goals, and we knew that only fundraising would not be enough. We raised money through social media including Facebook and Instagram, but we also held engineering and coding classes to raise money. A thorough open-source curriculum was created by our team, and it is posted on our website for We asked the students’ parents for a small donation each class, and we put all of that funding straight into the fundraiser. We made a website, where we raised money. We plan to continue to donate a portion of our outreach donations to the food bank in the coming years.”

They believe their efforts have helped them get this far but if you want to help them reach their goal of $10,000, donate here!

Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Teen Foodie Uses Techie Magic to Help Local Restaurants

Samarth Tewari

Samarth Tewari was just another hungry teenager in search of a greater variety of food to tickle his taste buds while stuck at home during COVID-19. His mother Geetika, a working professional, was wondering how to deal with the insatiable appetite of a growing teen, but nixed the idea of ordering from local restaurants.

“No way, it’s not safe due to COVID19,” she cautioned.

Samarth, a rising sophomore at Mission San Jose High School picked up the phone to find out why. He made a few calls to local restaurant owners as the pandemic got underway, and quickly learned that many restaurants had been forced to close or were struggling to stay open while trying to comply with the new rules.

Was there a solution that could resolve this foodie crisis? Samarth’s techie dad suggested he “Figure it out yourself and help folks in the process.”

Samarth began researching the safety concerns of the general public, as well as the revenue losses being experienced by local restaurants. Sifting through health inspection data provided by the Alameda County Health Department, he came up with FAQs on safety criteria based on CDC guidelines, to determine which restaurants would be considered “safest” to buy food from during the pandemic.

The result was eatsafefremont.org, a website that encouraged locals to safely eat at neighborhood restaurants by a process of elimination based on their food safety concerns.

As the website rolled out it received a remarkable 12,000 visits and over 2,200 unique individual users .

In yet another enterprising initiative, Samarth roped in his mother (a Fremont Bridge Rotarian) to support the local community by helping restaurants that have lost nearly 90% of their profits. Through fundraising efforts organized by Fremont Bridge Rotary and District 5170 of Rotary International, the project raised enough money to help locally owned restaurants pay their bills, retain their employees, and show support from the community during these difficult times.

Local restauranteurs are impressed. Gael Stewart who owns the popular Mission Coffee House in Fremont noted, “This $500 check came as a shock.  This young man had been in touch, but I wasn’t sure if we will actually receive funds. It means a lot, a young kid doing so much to support his community and caring about a local coffee shop with support from the community who want our coffee shop to be open post COVID19.”

Cantaritos, a Mexican restaurant,  Lovely Sweets and Snacks Indian Cuisine, and Dina’s Family restaurant which have served the Fremont community for decades, are delighted by community efforts to support their businesses.

Bridge Rotary has raised more than $3,000 and plans to continue to efforts to fundraise from local businesses and larger national corporations in the city.

Even as restaurants struggle to remain profitable as they juggle limited capacity seating in the face of potential second waves of the virus, Samarth and his supporters firmly believe that local restaurants are an integral part of their city. They are determined to continue backing locally owned restaurants so that Fremont doesn’t become an urban jungle of large chain restaurants.

Going forward, Samarth is partnering with local charitable organizations serving the homeless and the hungry, old age homes and women shelters, to provide these vulnerable populations with fresh, healthy and nutritious food from local restaurants. Samarth plans to expand the mission of his project by giving bulk orders to restaurants and feeding needy or at risk populations in the community.

To learn more about the project and help Eat Safe Fremont, visit  www.eatsafefremont.org or contact eatsafefremont@gmail.com.

 

 

 

The Art of College Admissions

Discover what it REALLY takes to get into college from professional admissions experts.

Getting into college is a long and often challenging process. Students are trying to figure out how to present themselves as “unique” on their college applications all while keeping up their grades in school, extra-curricular activities, social lives and more.

So, how do families go about beginning to plan for college admissions? The first step for many is gathering as much information as possible! A great way to do this is by attending a college admissions information seminar.  

Join Insight Education at the Hyatt Place Fremont on Saturday, July 21 for our free community seminar on The Art of College Admissions. The 2-hour seminar covers a range topics including recent admissions trends, standardized testing, what ‘holistic admissions’ really means, what you can do to maximize your changes of admissions and an overall look at how the college admissions landscape has changed- and continues to do so! We will also have plenty of time for questions from the audience and time for you to talk with our team of professional college admissions counselors.

Insight Education have been working with families for more than 18 years to guide students through the complex admissions landscape. We firmly believe that high school should be about more than just preparing for college admissions, and as such work alongside students to help shape these important 4-years into experiences that you will enjoy and treasure.  

Make sure to register your seat at the seminar by visiting Eventbrite HERE. The seminar will be capped at 60 people so we have a chance to interact with you one-on-one and share advice specific to your students. Check in is at 9:40am for a prompt presentation start time of 10.00am!

We look forward to seeing you there and if you have any questions before hand, please feel free to reach out to holly@insight-education.net