[dropcap]J[/dropcap]unior Daughty Arora grew up in India with her grandparents. She met her parents for the first time she remembers when she was five. She will be the first in her family to grow up in America.
“It means a lot [to be first generation],” Daughty said. “There’s a lot of pressure from my Indian culture to succeed in life. So I’m afraid of failure in a way because I feel like since my parents have worked so hard to come here and build a whole lifestyle for me and my brother I should make all their hard work worth it… I’ll [focus on] working hard and setting challenging goals.”
However Daughty says she wasn’t always this optimistic about living in America. After spending most of her early childhood in India, moving to a completely different country was very difficult for her.
“It was weird coming to a new country with a new language [and culture] that I didn’t really know that well,” Daughty said.
Daughty said at first she didn’t speak English at home because, although she had learned how to read and write it in school in India, speaking it was still hard for her and it only got harder when she started going to school.
“I really didn’t want to go to school because I didn’t know anyone and talking to people was also super hard and super awkward,” Daughty said. “But [I realize now] I just had to embrace myself in order to change and succeed, and not be stuck in that my little bubble.”
The first friends Daughty made when she first overcame her shyness were Indian because she was more comfortable with people who shared a similar background to that of her friends back home. She met her first American friend, Claudia, through one of her Indian friends, Kiran.
“My relationship with Claudia was distant,” Daughty said. “With Kiran, there were a lot things about my life she could understand because she came from the same culture, so we always [had] something to talk about, even if it was a small topic such as food… I knew none of the local cartoons or toys, so Claudia and I didn’t really have anything to bond over. Over time though… I got to know American culture better and we started talking more and became better friends.”
However, Daughty pointed out, her initial shyness around Americans was just due to the fact that she was a shy person, not because she felt like an outsider due to her background.
“I think that at a young age you don’t really notice the differences [between people] that much and it’s more when you’re older and growing up that you [realize you’re] different in some way,” Daughty said.
Yet even when Daughty did start to grow up and take notice of the cultural differences between her and her friends, she said she never made any effort to change who she was in order to fit in better.
“I think a big part of being [made up] of different cultures is to embrace it and always carry it with you… because that’s what you’re going to be passing on to your kids,” Daughty said. “So I don’t really want to lose my Indian culture but I think I’m trying to embrace the American culture as well and kind of blend them together.”