"I remember because Halloween. When I came, everyone was wearing costume. I never knew of this before because in India we never celebrated. So, when I came, I was confused. I thought all Americans were like this. ‘Weird’, I was thinking (laughter)."
"Having a place of my own, a car of my own, being independent. Being my own person and doing whatever it is I wanted to do, with full responsibility for my actions without having sort of a safety net or somebody to check on me or be worried about me. "
"When I left, I was wearing a silk sari and I was all full of smiles; when I arrived here, my sari was in tatters and my shoes were biting, you know, the shoe bites, so my legs were full of sores. I couldn't even walk, I was limping. And I was practically in tears."
"The wealth of information I could get from a library was amazing. The librarians were very helpful. So I think that was my first thing, the learning experience in so many areas, fending for myself, going and discovering new things, some things that we were not exposed to [in India]."
"My non-Indian teachers, colleagues, friends, neighbors, and even strangers found these Indian clothes curiously interesting. In fact, a local newspaper, called Fargo Forum ran a feature spread in their Sunday interest section, displaying photographs of me around campus in my Indian clothing. The feature was titled 'They like their saris!'"
" I couldn’t carry my bags in Port Authority and was surprised when a man grabbed my bags and started walking – I thought he would steal my bags, but he gave them to me, told me to have a good day and left."
"Having spent my life in India, where you could not imagine the absence of sounds or people, this almost-silent but quaint lamp-lit storybook street in Zurich for me became my emblem, my prototype, of this other world I had just entered."
"And I’m like “oh my god, snow!”. And at that point in my life, I’ve only been in snow, I think, only twice. So just to see it again, and to know that— it’ll now be a yearly part of my life— it was just so exciting..."
"I used to be a busy performer in Carnatic dancing, performing at least 50-60 performances each year. Nobody knew me here, and I struggled practicing on the fourth floor of my house, with neighbors who found it disturbing and annoying."
"That night, when I layed down to sleep- it all came to me. All this time I was excited thinking “I'm going to America, I'm going to America!” but that night I thought about my parents, my home, everything…"
"My parents were so called helicopter parents who took care of me for everything, and coming here, taking care of myself, paying the bills, studying for the exams, cooking for myself, it was a challenge."
"So that's the thing. I was surprised. I wasn't nervous, really? I was definitely kind of excited, but not like 'jumping with joy'. I was excited, but I think I was surprised, and I think it's related to where the country was at the time. "
"So, my friends and I actually came up with this concept called “Earlier Flight Syndrome”, which is for some reason people who had come “earlier” felt that they were, one way or another, superior to people who had come later."
"Being an immigrant helped me grow hugely. I got to know people of so many different backgrounds and cultures. I learned so much from them. I learned the ethics of hard work and the dignity of labor. For my first year in the US, I was working to save money to go to graduate school. I was working minimum pay jobs, but I always felt good about the fact that I was working and saving and being independent."
"I think being American is a state of mind. I cannot put it in a box. These are the attributes of being an American – respect, tolerance of religion, race, language, culture, and bringing around the best of what humankind can do. I do believe this is the week we are celebrating 50 years of space. Neil Armstrong said 'One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.' That is an example of Americanism. Think mankind. It is not I."
"The main obstacle to assimilation is people’s attitudes. If they are hostile towards you, then you feel like an outsider. I was shielded because my new husband’s friends, the people I met volunteering at the hospital, and strangers everywhere were nice to me. Thanks to this, I was able to make myself part of the American scene."
"I had the best time of my life, frankly speaking. I went around to museums, I went on dates, I went alone around places and checked things out and I was doing this in the middle of the night, the middle of day, it didn’t matter."
"They would get up from wherever they were in the middle of the night and step on us. They would get mad because we were there and they’d ask if we wanted to fight them even though we'd been sleeping."
"If I could share any piece of learning that I had from my family’s experience it would be the significance of finding connection, regardless of what community or ethnic group you find connection in, finding connection with other immigrant people."
"So when I hear people complaining about undocumented aliens, I ask them, what does that look like? And when I confess to them, they are completely shocked because that’s not what they are talking about."
"It’s just a different feeling to be a tourist and knowing that you are going for a few days or a few weeks and then versus actually moving to the country with the expectation of being there for a couple of years at least."
"And the parks, and the freedom and security you guys have, and that feeling that you can be out late without having to go home with the fear that like, oh no it’s late, you know, people come out, you know."
"So what was very good about the United States is that I could find Brazilian neighborhoods where I could get Brazilian food, I could go to good restaurants, I could go to Brazilian fast foods too, to Brazilian church and meet a lot of Brazilian people."
"But when you come here, very few folks can tell you that Nairobi has 4.4 million people, and they have skyscrapers, and working class jobs, and private schools. We’re not just all a village out there."
"I just wanted to see my dad. We are really close and it was the first time being without him for so long. He moved in September. My mom, sister, and I joined in December. I was only a kid; I just wanted my dad."
"On the night of 27th August 1968 my father's friend dropped me at Bombay airport and I took the Air India flight to London via Beirut, Frankfurt, Paris and I had to change the plane for the next part of the journey to the USA."
"But what I can tell you is my parents actually moved back to India when I was 10 because my dad said "I was just here to study. I'm moving back. Degrees will help my country." He was very patriotic, so we all moved back."
"I kind of understood the term ‘thundering silence’ for the first time. ‘Cause, where I grew up, I used to hear rickshaws ting-tinging outside and prostitutes fighting and things, you know? And now, nothing. Just quiet!"
"In my first semester, I finished the money given to me for the year. I was not extravagant. So I worked in a Chinese restaurant two nights a week to make pocket money for extras such as personal items and clothing/shoes."
"There happened to be one other Pakistani student who was the closest in culture at that time to me and we made a bond that I'll never forget, even though we came from countries where traditionally they were rivals."
"Landing in New York was something totally different – the huge skyscrapers, the ‘hustle and bustle,’ the speed of life was like a totally different world opening up to us when compared to London or pre-partition India."
"It was not a very happy day for me, because I had wanted to remain in the UK and attend Guy’s Hospital Medical School, which was a place I had wanted to go to ever since I was ten – I wanted to be a doctor like my dad."
"My entire childhood was spent in one of the seven UN camps for Bhutanese refugees. We came here because we are Bhutanese Nepalis and the Nepali government didn’t give us citizenship, so we came to the U.S.A. to work, get an education and have citizenship for the first time in our lives."