As the end of the semester creeps around the corner, many of the organizations on campus start to panic. For any other South Asian student involved in the community, you know what I’m talking about. That last month of the spring semester where EVERY club has an event.
Currently, I’m vice president of the Bangladeshi Student Association. We have an event today, Pohela Boishakah, or Bengali New Year. No, this is not to plug my event. This is so much more than that.
Growing up in Shelton, CT, I found that most of my friends at school were white and Christian and just overall shared an identity that did not align with mine at all. While it never bothered me growing up, being at UConn and submerging myself in a community that could relate to my cultural experiences made me realize the power of my identity.
This week, I want to talk about the reason why it is so important to stay in touch with culture and how it has helped keep a smile on my face.
The importance of culture, especially when you’re in the minority, comes from the sense of community. There is a weird kind of comfort in seeing people that look like you, getting food with people who grew up like you, having late night conversations with people who have the same conflicts as you.
Culture comes in so many forms. The most notable in my life are food, clothes, music and, most of all, community.
I can’t even begin to explain the unity that food brings. Being able to connect with people around me because they love their mom’s chicken curry but can’t stand the smell that it brings in the house is priceless. The feeling of swiping through pictures of past holidays in desi garb with other people, laughing at the way they never seem to fit right, is irreplaceable. Dancing around to a Bollywood song from the early 2000s, copying the exact moves they do in the movie, is absolutely joyous.
Being connected to culture keeps me so grounded in positivity because it gives me a platform to connect to. It gives me a home away from home. When I don’t have the comfort of my mom singing old Bollywood songs in the shower, I have my brown girls around me binge-watching Bollywood movies from the 90s. When I miss the taste of curry and the feeling of spices on my tastebuds, I have my guys in their apartments who always share their food from home with me.
At the end of the day, feeling like you belong is what matters the most and is what will bring you the most peace and self satisfaction.
Keep smiling, for the culture.
Armana Islam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.