My parents came to this country without knowing how they would lead their lives, but they were adamant their kids would lead better ones through the power of education. When my parents left Bangladesh, they were faced with vitriol, especially from family and friends. People felt they were betraying the country by leaving. My mother often told me that to prove we were not traitors, I had to maintain my roots while also assimilating into the American culture. As a six-year-old, I was torn between these two distinct worlds. My name at home was pronounced one way, while at school, it would be anglicized. I felt detached from my cultural identity until my mother gave me a pair of small jhumkas. Anything I wore to school screamed “I am American” to prevent myself from being the epicenter of mockery, but my mother forced me to wear the jhumkas to show gratitude for my culture. I wore them to school the next day while being confined in a cage of embarrassment. The compliments I received were bewildering because I wasn’t conforming to American standards. Through this small display of my culture, my Bengali-American identity became evident to me. I wanted to embrace every bit of it.
Fairoj Tashnia Read More