Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The idea of "fitting in" and maintaining necessary cultural balance

It's almost  75 days since I arrived in the states, and something which I wanted ever since was not to be an alien to the culture here. What do I do?There were  some opportunities on campus,  for which I signed up .

The first one was the active cultural exchange program. This gathering of 8 people has been a blessing in disguise for a person like me. Who was right there ,trying not to be a "foreigner" . I had to move with the flow . But it wouldn't mean that I could compromise  on the cultural and ethical values on which I grew up back in India. The ACE program has been very helpful in sharing what cultural barriers we have , the  social customs and religious beliefs. I was amazed to see the  way in which there are so many similarities  and some not so similar customs in  the diverse group. Folks from India,China,Nigeria,Indonesia, Hungary and Taiwan have been participating in the program since week 1.

Another program which I've been actively participating is the "Lion's cousins" group. Here, each international student who signed up for the program is assigned an american cousin , we are allowed to meet and exchange our  way of life and invite each other for festivals or occasions . When I first met my cousin, we never expected that we would chat for a long time . But curiosity about each other's countries got us talking for 3 hours. Oh and I did have the opportunity to taste cheese macroni and learn the game of Texas hold 'em poker. So it was fun!

While every opportunity which seemed interesting and knowledgeable were signed up by me, I was making sure that my Indian  roots. I listen to devotional songs every day in the morning, I make sure that I pray on every Saturday as I used to, only now there are no temples here in commerce. My spiritual sojourn has always there with me and will continue to do so. My family is not with me to celebrate our festivals. Luckily, we have a close knit and a vibrant Indian community at the college who organize various events and make sure that our cultural ethos are in place.