It was different, very different, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.: Becoming Minnesotan

Prasanna Mishra, c.2001.
  • Name - Prasanna Mishra
  • Age at interview - 50
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 01.28.1999
  • India Association of Minnesota Oral History Project 2 Celebration, 1999.


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    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many Indian immigrants feel it is important to connect with the larger Indian community in their area, to establish resources for struggling Indian immigrants, and to reach out to educate Minnesotans about Indian culture, too.  It is often difficult for immigrants to find resources to help them when they are so unfamiliar with this new place.  This is especially true in smaller cities and towns where the Asian Indian population may be quite small and isolated.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Prasanna Mishra 3
    1:25 Minutes | 1.36Mb


    Narrator: Prasanna Mishra (PM)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  What was Rochester like when you came here? Was there an Indian community here?

    PM:  Yes, Rochester, being a professional town, there's a sizeable Indian community, yes, and we were the only Oriya-speaking family when we came, but now there are three other families. It was different, very different, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    PS:  How so?

    PM:  In the sense that it is cold, first of all, a small town. And Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, being a university town and a working-class town, there is a crosscurrent of music and art, very wide spectrum, very wide spectrum. Not only the Western, but the Eastern and the world music and world culture, a big university town. But in Rochester, to get a jazz station, it is not possible.

    PS:  A jazz station?

    PM:  World music. You have to listen to jazz from BBC, come to think of that, or Public Radio jazz, and Saturday, I listen to Garrison Keillor for three hours. Other than that, Rochester doesn't cater to variety. But it is a clean, nice, small town. Great place to bring up children.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


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


    Adjective:  Of or relating to Asia or the Far East.


    Noun:  The official language of the state of Orissa, India.

    Listen to this word: 


    Adjective:  Describes a specific field of work that requires above average education and a specific set of skills.

    Noun: A person who works in a job that requires a lot of skills or training.


    Adjective:  Fairly large.


    Noun:  A range.


    Adjective:  Of, relating to, or characteristic of the West, that is, the noncommunist countries of Europe, the Americas and Australia.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 614