Keeping Up With Kanika: my heritage

From+social+issues+to+stuff+happening+on+campus%2C+senior+Kanika+Kappalayil+provides+her+take+in+this+weekly+column.+
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Keeping Up With Kanika: my heritage

From social issues to stuff happening on campus, senior Kanika Kappalayil provides her take in this weekly column.

From social issues to stuff happening on campus, senior Kanika Kappalayil provides her take in this weekly column.

Juleanna Culilap

From social issues to stuff happening on campus, senior Kanika Kappalayil provides her take in this weekly column.

Juleanna Culilap

Juleanna Culilap

From social issues to stuff happening on campus, senior Kanika Kappalayil provides her take in this weekly column.

Kanika Kappalayil, Staff Reporter

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With Hanukkah having passed and Kwanzaa and Christmas just on the horizon, it’s safe to say we’re progressing fast in the holiday season, nearing the new year. With the practice of so many holidays and customs this winter season, I found myself recently thinking about my own cultural upbringing and heritage.

My parents, both born in India, come from different states, Kerala and Karnataka, within the nation. To those unaware, India is extremely culturally divergent, with each state professing its own customs, language, clothing, food, and traditions. Given this, my parents are a product of the vast differences in culture that they were raised in.

Due to such circumstances, growing up, I learned Hindi and other common denominators of Indian culture, which united my family. Thus, I was never fully exposed or dominated by either side of my family’s rich heritage.

I quickly learned, however, from my Indian first generation counterparts in school, that I never quite experienced Indian culture in the way that my peers with parents from the same states did.

I was a hybrid. Not quite conforming to the social and cultural norms of either side of my family.

While they could proudly profess their mother tongues, I could only speak Hindi, a language I considered generic. While they could attend cultural association events and functions, I couldn’t, being neither exclusively a part of one community over the other. While others could easily answer about their Indian heritage, I always found myself awkwardly explaining away the details of my family’s upbringing.

At first, I felt a certain sense of bitterness for my “weird” cultural identity that many others couldn’t relate to.

As I grew up, however, branching out to various friend groups and socializing and befriending those of various backgrounds and personal interests, I learned quickly that my unique culture raised me to be someone who could reach across the aisle and learn about others.

Knowing Hindi wasn’t bland or boring.

It meant I could communicate with more people because of its function as a common language platform.

Suddenly, the lingua franca became vibrant and attractive to me.

I realized that my parents’ initiative to seek common ground regarding culture enriched my outlook on life.

Being neither exclusively part of one community nor another meant I could define myself by my own interests, passions, and goals rather than a geographic location.