Junior Shanu Kaushal faces challenges in balancing two cultures
Creating a happy medium between Indian and American cultures has posed difficulty for Shanu
Being brought up by two Indian parents while living in Kansas has been difficult for junior Shanu Kaushal as she tries to balance both Indian and American cultures in her school and home life.
During her upbringing, Shanu learned the language of Punjabi, the Hindu religion and the principles of the Indian culture, but her current life in America makes her adapt to be more like the other teenagers around her.
“My parents want me to be strictly Indian, but at the same time I don’t like some of their views. At school people expect me to have American values, and be similar to them,” Shanu said. “I’m really influenced by outside forces; it’s just a constant battle every day between being what my parents expect me to be, and being who I want to be.”
Shanu’s sister, Nena Kaushal, who currently goes to Kansas University, has seen how Indian culture has shaped who Shanu is today.
“Our culture has probably affected Shanu in both positive and negative ways,” Nena said via email. “Growing up Indian brings rich and fun experiences to her life that she would not receive otherwise.”
Although it’s been hard to keep up with both cultures, Shanu has experienced many valuable aspects of her Indian culture throughout the years.
“She has learned how to speak another language, participate in various custom and traditions, learn traditional dances, attend Indian events, listen to the music, eat traditional foods and more importantly, make relations with people the same race as her,” Nena said. “But, growing up in two different cultures also can be a struggle at times; it involves a certain balancing act.”
Alongside all of the other endeavors she has gone through regarding the Indian culture, Shanu participates in various Hindu practices and customs with her family.
“When it comes to religious holidays, we do follow a lot of traditions. We go to our temple and go through the regular ceremony,” Shanu said. “Most Hindu people are vegetarian, but here in America everything is revolved around meat so it’s hard to do that.”
Although these traditions are a part of her life, Shanu has felt restricted by the Indian rules enforced by her parents.
“My parents get mad when I wear shorts because they think it’s too revealing and people here would think that’s completely ludicrous because it’s hot outside,” Shanu said. “Being friends with guys is a no go, my culture has arranged marriage and that’s about it. There is really no such thing as dating because it’s frowned upon.”
Despite disagreeing with some Indian standards, there are many values Shanu has learned through the Indian culture. According to Nena, one of the most important aspects of the culture is a strong family fellowship.
“We were raised in a culture that highly values family bonds, so we have always been close to each other and our other two siblings,” Nena said. “Because family is very important to us, we love having get togethers and catching up with everyone.”
Shanu expects to face cultural issues the rest of her life, but will continue working to build herself to be the person she wants to be.
“[My culture] has made me a lot more of an open minded person because I’m experiencing two different cultures at the same time,” Shanu said. “Every culture has different values and beliefs. I’ve taken values from American culture and Indian culture and made it one. I’m an offspring on two clashing cultures, and I’m combining both to be me.”