Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sangida on Knowing Where She Comes from

“I’ve been living in D.C. for about seven years now. I came to D.C. from Bangladesh when I was ten. My Dad was living here and he brought me and my Mom over. Now, I am in high school at McKinley in Northeast. In Bangladesh, there is no snow so that was a big difference given that we moved here in January. It was a big shock for us.

“My first day of school was February 14, 2003. It was Valentine’s Day and I had no idea what was going on and did not speak the language. They certainly didn’t have that holiday in my country. But, it was really cool and I grew to like things here a lot as life here is much less strict. After six months, my English really improved and things got easier for me.

“At home, we keep a close connection to Bangladesh. I talk with my cousins and grandparents all the time there. But, I also feel a strong connection to this place. With my parents, we have some tension when I want to go out with my friends. When I want to do something, I usually tell my parents that friends are also going so that they know their parents are okay with it. But, they will say, ‘Just because we live in America doesn’t mean we’re Americans!’ I say, 'We may not be Americans, but we live here.' My culture is important to me. I know where my family and I come from, but I also know that my life is in America now.”


Anonymous said...

I am always intrigued by the mentality that this young women describes her family as having - specifically, the whole "we live here but we're not American" thing. I have lived in the DC area all my life (in Montgomery County or the District) and have known a lot of immigrants. My own family immigrated from Europe to DC in the 1930s. However, when my family immigrated here, the mentality was to blend in and "act" American. Now, there is a definite sense of not just maintaining one's culture (which is fine) but refusing to blend in at all. If you're raising a child here, you need to let that child be American - and that means letting that child do what his/her peers do, socialize, etc. I see a lot of Asian families in particular struggle with this. Unfortunately, the end result is often that their children rebel when they leave the house. But these children, having not been socialized among their peers, are more likely to get into trouble because they have not developed the necessary "street smarts" to survive in the big world. '

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