Growing up, I have been a part of two worlds. Every day I crossed the boundary when I stepped off the driveway of my house. The language, cultural norms, and values behind the driveway and over the fences were very different. My identity in the house was that of a young Bengali-American child who loved science and SpongeBob. Outside of the house, I was just one of the Indian kids.
As first generation Americans from various parts of India, we each lost a piece of our culture and our identity whenever we were grouped together. Throughout my years at school, the cultures and the languages of India were constantly grouped as one. Yet my identity is unique to my experience. I am Bengali not only because of where my family is from, but because of the values I have and the culture that surrounds me. And because of my upbringing, my identity cannot be generalized as just Indian, as just Asian, or as just the child of an immigrant.
At home, my parents instilled in me the values of being a Bengali as being hard working, focused, and doing my best. A big part of our culture is food, specifically fish and mutton, as well as pujas (religious ceremonies) that my family celebrates and embraces, including Durga Puja, Subho Noboborsho, Bhai Phota, and more with our friends and great food. These meals and gatherings are some of the many things that have allowed me to identify with my world behind the fences.
Beyond the fences, I was a Boy Scout and a scientist. Being an outdoorsman, a scientist, and an American is a part of who I am. But every moment I am in the outside world, I cannot embrace my Bengali or American identity, as it is invisible. There are times when I feared that because I was different racially and culturally, I could never be American. Constantly, as a kid, I would be bullied for being an Indian trying to be a Boy Scout, as if I wasn’t American at all. When it came to school, it was always a forced competition with other Indians, trying to live up to the Indian race, forcing me to lose what made me unique, what made me Bengali. Coming to Andover has loosened my hold of family, culture, language, and food. After one year, I have come to terms with completely separating my identities, as I am just an Indian in school but a Bengali American back home.
Society has placed me into a box; I am just another Indian and will always be looked at through a different lens. This contributed greatly to my two worlds splitting apart, as I could no longer hold both identities together. Like many, I have a culture and storiesw that I am proud to share. I am a proud Bengali American, with a great family who overcame challenge after challenge. I am not just another Indian. I am the values instilled by my family, a scientist, an outdoorsman, and I am learning to accept the different worlds I live in.
Varun Roy is a two year Upper from from Colorado Springs, Colo. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.