Cultural paradoxes have had a permanent presence in my life. Living in an immigrant family with strong Indian traditions and proud identity while simultaneously moving to the most conservative, liberal, rural, and urban regions of America has certainly brought some interesting experiences. My numerous encounters with such cultural variations have broadened my view of society and my personal identity, and have convinced me of two facts: one, that exposure to diverse peoples and unique perspectives are the only methods of promoting tolerance, and second, that I want to devote my life to playing an active role in this process of enrichment.
I was born in Texas, and then moved to Maryland, California, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and South Florida. The diversity within this country has become one with my identity. I have witnessed both incredible acceptance, and incredible intolerance, and have been able to identify the root cause of these attitudes at a young age because of my unique perspective. The more informed we are of the great range of cultural norms that exist in the world—the more we realize that the world is not neatly cut into right or wrong, black or white, good or bad—the greater tolerance we exhibit in our interactions with people.
Until the high school, I felt, as most first generation Americans must feel: caught between the culture, traditions, and values of two seemingly irreconcilable fronts. What initiated the spark that altered my outlook was a World History class, taught by an especially influential and intriguing teacher. The course showed me that this process that I was a part of were tides on a shore, with migration at the crest, and assimilation as it crashed on the beach—ceaseless and unstoppable. From the dawn of humanity, human beings are traveling, taking in new experiences, and facing new challenges with resiliency, armed only with knowledge gained by encounters with unique people of various backgrounds. For me to not capitalize on my unique opportunity was ridiculous, and I now know how fortunate I am to have the wisdom and guidance of two entirely different cultures. The strong sense of family and community from Indian culture, and the boldness and individuality of the country I live in are qualities that I have striven to maintain and cultivate in my personality.
This multicultural perspective is a quality I bring to every endeavor of mine; it goes without saying that in today’s immensely interconnected world, a global view is not only desirable, but also crucial for success. It has been my travels in this country, in tandem with my uniquely Indian upbringing that has fostered in me this desire to spread acceptance through the formation of informed, insightful, and educated opinions instead of the preconceived prejudices that tend to reign supreme. I plan on communicating my experiences in an effort to promote a tolerance and open-mindedness that transcends all bounds of ethnicity, profession, socioeconomic background, and all other demarcations that divide us.