It's been such a blessing to have two cultures.: Becoming Minnesotan

Nirupama Misra, c.2006.
  • Name - Nirupama Misra
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview -
  • SILC dance troupe at the Sikh Gurdwara, Fridley, Minnesota, April 6, 2002.

    We Are Here

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many Indian immigrants struggle with their “dual identity”.  They still feel like Indians and work to keep up their Indian culture, religious traditions, and values.  However, they also must learn how to live in American society.  It can be difficult for young Indian-Americans to grow up in a place that their parents don’t fully understand.  This younger generation can feel more “American” than “Indian”.  They grow up surrounded by friends and classmates who are not Indian, and become influenced by these different cultures.  Some see it as a positive that they are able to have two cultures!  They can continue the Indian cultural practices of their parents, but also operate like any other American in this society.  However, these second generation children often clash with their parents when they decide to forego certain Indian traditions.

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Nirupama Misra 7
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    Narrator: Nirupama Misra (NM)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  Were there any advantages that you found to being Indian, or being different?

    NM:  In terms of lifelong skills, I think it's been such a blessing to have two cultures, and, yes, absolutely, absolutely. I wish it's something that every kid could have, a little bit of this experience, because it teaches you so much.

    There are so many things I take for granted that I realize most of the people I know have no connection to: the ability to see things thoroughly, in two different ways; to see them through one set of eyes, and then see them through another set of eyes, and realize you're seeing two different things. Knowing that that's going on all the time gives you, I think, a tremendous understanding of the diversity of the world and the need for tolerance and the need to hear people through and try to understand them, and I think the ability to be conversant in two different cultures, sometimes it's very isolating, because I often feel like nobody understands this, nobody sees this the way I do.

    I think it was easier for Indian kids who have been raised here ten years after me. There was a little "boomlet" started at that point. It's easier, I'm guessing, because they probably had two or three counterparts to talk to about it, or maybe twenty. Now there are just so many kids going through this. But for me, it was always just me, and especially not having brothers and sisters, I didn't even have a family to go back to, to talk about it.

    But it's a tremendous gift, I think, to have two sets of things to draw from, and I think it's made me better professionally. I think it's made me better interpersonally. I think it's given me a lot of skills.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  Good fortune; a thing one is glad of.


    Adjective:  Closely familiar; well-informed.


    Noun:   A person or thing having the same function or characteristics as another.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  The quality of being diverse or different; difference or unlikeness; variety.


    Noun:  1. Participation in events, leading to knowledge, opinons, or skills.  2. The knowledge thus gathered.


    Adverb:  In a manner relating to or involving relations between persons.


    Verb:  To set apart or cut off from others.  (isolates, isolating, isolated)


    Adverb:  Relating to a person's work.


    Noun:   The ability or practice of tolerating; an acceptance or patience with the beliefs, opinions or practices of others; a lack of bigotry.


    Adjective:  Awe-inspiring; terrific; extremely large or great.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 630