How has your AAPI identity impacted you in general?
The most prominent aspect of my AAPI identity definitely has to do with language. I grew up in New Jersey, and my parents only spoke English with us even though they know Punjabi, Hindi, and et cetera…So when my grandparents tried to teach my Punjabi, I was so stubborn and hesitant. I was not welcoming the Indian heritage into my life, and kept on pushing it away. By the time I became a teenager, I realized there was no way to connect and understand my identity without the language. It became so apparent that I tried all these different avenues to make up for lost time. After school I would sit at my computer for half an hour a day and do my Rosetta Stone lessons. I had audiobooks on my iPod. Today, while I’m not a native speaker since I grew up speaking English, it’s been the most meaningful part of how I can connect with my identity. That’s really continued into Georgetown. And I transferred from NYU, so those two (Language and Transfer) were the biggest aspects of my college experience. At NYU, we had Hindi conversation hour. At Georgetown, we’re trying to do the same. It’s something I remain passionate about. There’s a quote from Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed, and he said something along the lines of, “language is the key to which we can unlock the house of culture.” That’s something that’s stuck with me, whether it’s actually understanding what they say in the temple versus understanding the jokes my parents say at my family reunions…It’s been the most meaningful part of my life, and something I’m still working on. It’s a never-ending journey, as cheesy as it sounds. When it comes to language, I find it inseparable from a cultural identity.
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