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Growing Up Indian American

Ameya Chander, Duluth, GA

One of the first things we learn as Indian Americans is our ABCDs, or that we are American Born Confused Desis. Frankly, I don’t know how you would expect us not to be confused. We drive from tennis practice to bharatnatyam class, eat Panera bread for breakfast and paneer and naan bread for dinner. Our Super Bowl party is followed by the ICC World Cup. We go from looking for the prettiest Garba lehengas to finding that perfect prom dress.

One of the hardest ordeals I have faced is trying to find the perfect mix between my two cultures. I will never be that blue-eyed, blond haired, fair skinned American girl. Nor will I be the spelling bee winning, Harvard attending genius who just found the cure to cancer while winning the Carnatic singing championship Indian dream child. But when trying to find our places in the world, labels are thrown at us from Indians and Americans alike. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone call an Indian American the words "whitewashed," "fob," or "curry scented," I would have enough money not to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Though we may have different aspirations and goals, we too want to be successful, yet we have been given so much more opportunity than our ancestors which we take for granted, that sometimes we are considered the "lazy generation." Our parents came to this country so they could have a better lifestyle, so they would make their place in the world. It took them years of studying and hard work to give us what we have so easily today. And though their struggles are something that we will never fully know, we can at least understand why they push us so much so that we will never face the endeavors that they to in order to prosper in this country.

Therefore, looking beyond all the mispronunciations of my name, questions about my ethnicity, and hours spent trying to get those perfect grades and SAT scores, I am blessed to be an Indian American. To live in a nation with top notch education, with astonishing opportunities and achieve my goals while never forgetting my heritage is an incredible experience. So even though my friends here will never seem to understand my daily struggles of trying to be the perfect Indian daughter, my 10 festivals every month, or why I always stay out of the sun in the summer, and my parents will seemingly always have expectations that I cannot seem to meet, I wouldn’t trade my ethnicity for the world.

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