BY KAMINI JAIN
So now, I am officially a citizen of the USA. But it hurts when the immigration officer says, that to become a US citizen, I have to give up my loyalty towards other countries, including the country I was born in. It hurts. It was my own decision to take up US citizenship, but it hurts.
I love to read all news that has India in it. I feel proud of every Indian who has made a difference. The other day, I asked my younger son to read an article in a local Indian newspaper. The article was about a competition in which an Indian kid stood third. My son protested. Why should he read this story and what’s so inspiring about it, he asked. He wants to know about every single kid who has made a difference, irrespective of their nationality. In fact, he calls me racist.
On the other hand, when I informed my dad about news of my citizenship, he could not contain his excitement. In his words: “ Hamari taraf se mithai kha lena. Hamesha khush raho”. He does not care if I live saat samundar par (across the seven seas); all he cares is that I stay happy.
It is said that you learn and understand more about your own culture when you live in a completely different culture. That is so true in my case. While understanding American culture, not only did I come to know of the best in Indian culture, but also where it’s flawed. I hope this ever-changing understanding makes me a better parent and a better citizen.
Our heritage and culture both separate and unite us – for this reason each of us must embrace who we are and where we live. Even though it took a long time for me to understand this, and even though I feel comfortable in the Indian-ness of my surroundings, it is time to spread my wings. Why not work towards being a better citizen of this global village? Why not be a better citizen of the country where we live and why not be an NRI who wants to give back? These are my missions in life!
Kamini Jain was born in India and moved to The United States 15 years ago. She works as a Senior Account Manager working in Tourslimited LLC. Jain is a social worker and winner of the Mrs. Suwanee India International in 2013. She lives in Suwanee with her husband Anand and two sons Arihant and Akash.