By: Nina Bidwai, IATG Contributor April 13, 2016
I am the first-born generation American in my family. My parents are originally from India, and a majority of my family still lives there. Even though I was born and raised in the United States, I remember feeling slightly out of place. I remember knowing somehow that my family was different from most other “American families.” I wasn’t blonde, fair, or blue eyed. I went to the temple, not the church. I felt insecure and was too young to be appreciative of where I came from, but I think this is natural. There’s always a tendency to want to fit in, wherever you may be, and at a young age, it’s difficult to be appreciative of the differences.
As I grew older, I started to appreciate India much more. I began to appreciate who I am and where I come from. I admire how much courage and hard work my parents endured to come to this country. They were alone and had minimum funds to support themselves. They came here for new opportunities. They embraced American culture while keeping their Indian culture present in the home as well. No doubt, they did an amazing job at balancing everything.
It’s not easy to leave your home country and start from scratch in a foreign land 9,000 miles away from your comfort zone. It takes immense courage, hard work, resilience, and perseverance.
I began to take pride in the language, heritage, culture, and religion of India. Instead of looking at myself as “different,” I looked at myself as unique. It wasn’t until college that I fully embraced being Indian-American. In college, most people are open-minded, and suddenly you see the world on a much larger scale. I saw strong-minded, beautiful, confident girls who were Persian-American, Lebanese-American, and Italian-American. They identified with both cultures, and inspired me to take pride in both of mine. My best friend that I met in college is Persian, and she was a huge inspiration for me to be confident in my roots. Nowadays, I always describe myself as Indian-American, not just American. I’m proud of where I come from and where my family comes from.
I began to take pride in the language, heritage, culture, and religion of India. Instead of looking at myself as “different,” I looked at myself as unique.
I started to fall in love with India over time. I love the historic areas, warm-hearted people, chai, chaos, rich culture, rich history, and welcoming families. You’ll find hospitality in India that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. People you meet for the first time will welcome you with open arms. You’ll find a charm and a glow that will draw you back to India again and again.
I am thankful to have the opportunity to travel to India and see my family regularly. I continue to learn about the culture and my family history from my grandparents, and it’s opened my eyes to the world. Traveling has made me grow as a person, and it is by far the best experience I have had. I’ve met people who have taught me more than I could have imagined, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Where are your roots? Do a little research, talk to you relatives, and discover where you come from!
Nina is a third year biology student at West Virginia University and an IATG Chapter Leader. She loves to travel, explore coffee shops, take pictures, and write. She constantly reminds herself that “I Am That Girl,” during my highs and lows. She is thankful to have gained many new perspectives through this organization and the amazing women that are a part of it. You can explore some of her travels and adventures on Instagram @nbidwai.
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