"I was born in White Plains, New York to Indian parents. They returned to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania when I was a few weeks old, where I spent the first 13 years of my life and attended the International School of Tanganyika (IST). IST, at the time, had 70 or so nationalities represented by the student body. I remember learning about many cultures and customs through my diverse group of friends and school activities. But then, I moved to the US in 1999 after finishing seventh grade.
Culture shock came as a surprise despite many summers vacations spent in the US - much of my extended family lives scattered throughout the United States. Initially, I felt out of place as the new kid, as one of three Indian students in the entire school of 600+ students, who were mostly caucasian. I was the one with the accent, who had not experienced snow, whose background was quite different, and who did not know that liking Hanson and the Backstreet Boys over N*Sync was social suicide in some circles.
While eighth grade was a hard year for me in transitioning to a new way of life, I felt more comfortable and less out of place with each passing year spent in the US. I began to open up more and more and share my story with others. The more I shared, the more people shared with me, and the more I learned. Many of my new friends were just like me, trying to find their place in the world and tell their story. While I used to think I had to have a lot in common with others to fit in, I learned that in recognizing and honoring our differences, I fit in just fine."
Krishna Chavda, New Jersey