Rattanpreet Singh Kohli, CIANA civics teacher
by Benjamin Fang
May 10, 2017 | 3564 views | 0 0 comments | 237 237 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rattanpreet Singh Kohli has found his true calling.

By day, he’s a volunteer civics teacher at CIANA, a nonprofit organization that offers programs to help newly-arrived immigrants. At night, he works at a Manhattan law firm, managing documents, binders and portfolios for attorneys and law clerks.

The Jamaica native who now calls Woodhaven home, decided to take an active role with CIANA three months ago. He knew there was no money involved, but it was something he wanted to do.

“A huge part of me realized that when I looked back at my parents, and they live in Pennsylvania, I’m reminded of the fact that they’re immigrants,” Kohli said. “Because I’m trying to establish myself here, maybe I cannot be available at all times to help them. That turned into, perhaps I can help others who reflect who they were 30 years back.”

After rethinking his priorities and making a big change in his daily schedule, Singh is now focused on a new goal: to go to law school and eventually transition from corporate to nonprofit.

“My end goal is to become an international human rights lawyer, in which I can actually run a nonprofit like CIANA with an emphasis on legal services,” he said.

Every morning, Kohli said, he asks himself why he’s taking on this new venture and where he gets the energy.

“When you look at yourself in the mirror everyday, you see those bags under your eyes,” he said. “At the same time, I’m tying my turban everyday in the morning. It reminds me why I do it, who I do it for.

“I don’t necessarily do it for my parents, I definitely don’t do it for myself,” he added. “As I tie my turban on everyday in the morning, I’m reminded that this is America. This is my civic duty. We have to look out after each other.”
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