Immigrant Heritage Month – Sourabh and Madeline
June is Immigrant Heritage Month. Throughout the month, we’ll be celebrating both our diversity and our shared American heritage by telling the stories of individuals that, together, comprise a uniquely American narrative.
“If you tell an Indian person you are going to meet them, it is generally a time of day as opposed to a time on your watch… Over here it is like a four-dimensional coordination of time. I would miss class a lot initially because I didn’t think I had to be there on time… Then I realized that was an expectation here.”
I grew up in India and came here in the spring of 2006. I got into an engineering college in India, but I didn’t really like it much and I wasn’t happy with the way we were being taught. My brother had already come to Omaha, and I got a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. He helped set things up for me and made some connections for where I could live. So I figured I would come over and try out America. I grew up with HBO and a lot of American films, so this culture was not alien to me. Of course there are a few things that you’re not prepared for. For the first two years, people could not understand what I was saying, but they were very nice and did not coming off as being impatient.
You live in a very different expectation with time in India; things are very different here in that regard. If you tell an Indian person you are going to meet them, it is generally a time of day as opposed to a time on your watch. Organically, these two people will figure out where to meet. Over here, it is like a four-dimensional coordination of time. I would miss class a lot initially because I didn’t think I had to be there on time. I would see other people show up on time, and then I realized that it was an expectation here. But with other Indian students it was all over the place. An email would say, “Let’s meet here in the evening.” And there would be a steady stream of people for two hours before the meeting actually began.
It is hard for my parents now that I’m gone. What is that syndrome called? Leaving the nest? Empty nest! That’s right. I went back home after a year or so, but after that I hadn’t seen them in about nine years. They only recently came to the U.S. to see me and my brother. They stayed at my place for a couple of months. It was really difficult to not see them for so long.
I stay connected through the news and what my friends write and what they post online. I feel the things that my peer group in India is affected by are similar to things Americans are affected by. For instance, how the economy affects your ability to get a job and the issue of upward mobility. I feel my friends here are worried about that just as much as my friends back home. We have similar social outrage. You have (violence in) Ferguson (Missouri) here, and something similar in India. People feel stymied by the government. So there are more similarities than we often think.
I love hanging out with Sourabh because he is passionately and unabashedly weird. We need to encourage that weirdness in a place where palettes can often be bland. I am Scottish and English. There is also some Norwegian in me. I am not very connected to my heritage. My parents have some stories, but they are hesitant to talk about it for some reason, and it is harder now that they are divorced. My parents met in California and moved to Nebraska, but most of my family is from Iowa. I have no ties to Nebraska other than my parents.