“My family moved to the US when I was 8. Growing up, I mostly had white friends, maybe because I went to a predominately white school? I remember how everyone would say, “You’re basically white but you just have dark skin. Your true white self is hiding underneath.” I was confused but I thought yay, I’m a white girl! I fit in. I think I was trying to surround myself with people I wanted to be like. I didn’t think that Indian culture was worth celebrating when I first came here because no one else celebrated it.
Then, we would visit my cousin in Chicago and I would get a culture shock seeing the thriving Indian community there. Sometimes I wonder: am I really Indian enough? No, not to the people back in India. Am I really American enough? No, I wasn’t born here. I will always be different. I think people here appreciate my Indian heritage. They don’t truly understand the culture, but it’s exciting for them because it’s “exotic” and new. People in India view being an Indian American like that too; like something exciting and newsworthy, but it’s Indian Americans that kind of walk in between the lines and try to fit in with either side. Some pick a side and have the best experiences, but, a lot of us get stuck trying to fit into both, and eventually end up becoming their own category. A category where you don’t have to be Indian enough or American enough--you are yourself and that’s enough.
I joined ASPIRE this year so I could meet new people like me. I met my mentor, Asha, and she is the first Indian friend I’ve made at the University. In this big world of unknowns, I’m glad I found a place to be me. I wouldn’t trade being in ASPIRE for anything else."