June is Immigrant Heritage Month
by Karishma Bhakta, contributor
June is the month of Immigrant Heritage. This month, we honor our immigrants for coming into a new country of unknown cultures and languages. Immigrant Heritage Month was established in June 2014 to provide the opportunity to explore their own heritage and celebrate the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America.
As an Asian American born to immigrant parents, I have learned about the sacrifices they made to come to the United States. My parents were born in a small village in India. My dad was raised in various small village because they moved around a lot due to my grandfather’s work as an insurance broker. My grandfather was the first person in his family to earn a college degree. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away leaving my dad and his three siblings and mother with enough money to go to college. They all went to college and slowly immigrated to the United States with little money. My Dad worked 3 jobs from 5 am to 10 pm with just a bike for transportation.
My mom was also born in a small village to a farming family. She was raised by her single uncles where she would clean and go to school until the 8th grade. After 8th grade, she spent most of her time cleaning, cooking and taking care of the farm animals. She eventually immigrated to England with her aunt where she worked in sewing factories for many years. Until she was invited to the United States to meet my dad for marriage.
My mom and dad both meet and agreed to marriage in their first meeting. Something I would never do. A year after their marriage, I was born and they moved into a motel they had leased. Another year passed and my brother was born. My mother worked in the motel, cleaning and selling rooms. My dad was given an opportunity to sell insurance through the John Hancock Financial Company.
As I grew older, I helped my mother with the motel work and my father with filing insurance papers. My parents and grandmother were strict on staying in touch with out Indian culture. We did prayers in the morning and afternoon. My father would sit my brother and I down during celebrations whether it be an American celebration or a Hindu celebration to teach us the significance of special occasions.
As immigrants, we are told to be Americanized or whitewashed. So we hide our culture and belief to assimilate with the general population. However, our culture is what makes us stronger and unique from one another. Through the years, I have learned to wear my culture as a badge of honor. I am proud to say I am an Asian Indian American and I stand with immigrants.
We want to hear about you and your immigrant story.
Share the following in the comments:
- Where were you born?
- What religion do you follow?
- How did you come to the United States?
- What motivates you?