Looking back at the history of Race & Ethnicity I am proud to see how much progress is made in the world. I must say that I am blessed to live in such a diverse society, amongst individuals with more rights than those of other countries. My name is Sunny Patel and my family comes from a small village back in India. My young family members such as my cousins, sister & myself, are considered 1st generation Indian Americans. In my culture picking names are customarily rights given to the father’s side of the family, particularly the child’s grandparents. I was the first in my family to no have followed such tradition as my mother decided my fate and named me Sunny. Ever since that missed tradition I strived to set myself apart from other people within the Indian community. Anytime someone asks me where I am from, I simply tell them I was born and raised in the south. The truth is I have been all over the east coast splitting my childhood between the north and south. I started my journey in Orlando, Florida (2 years), where I was born, then made my way to New Jersey (11 years), back down south to Georgia (6 years) and finally back to Jersey (4 years and counting).
What sets me apart from all other South Asians is my lack for Indian culture and native English tongue. I do not look or dress like other south Asians which allows me to diversify amongst my peers a lot easier than most. Living in America and going to school has made me forget my culture and language. In other words going to American schools you find it easier to fit in with others when you let go of your differences and come together with your similarities. Before you knew it I was not speaking anything but English even in my household
Going back to what I said earlier, “Anytime someone asks me where I am from…,” after this dialogue people are usually not expecting me to have said what I said so they nervously continue and say, “oh, you never been to India?”. Unlike most South Asians I only been to India one time and that was when I was 7 years old. That trip to India made me reacquaint myself with my Indian roots. I was not embarrassed or afraid of not fitting in when it comes to my religion but I simply wanted to distinguish myself as someone who is unique and different from the rest.
I still embrace my religion and will always follow the traditions as it makes my mother happy and keeps me connected to who I am. If I grew up in India there is no denying my ties to my religion but growing up in America was the transition phase between where I come from and where I am. When you are South Asian, growing up in America is not the best things because there are many cases in which we get mad fun of and even though I was Americanized, I was still made fun of after people find out where I was from. This is what made me not want to be Indian and not even American but my own person defined by my own standards.
After my move from Jersey to Georgia I felt more out of place than ever and I do not believe many people with my experience have had to go through such great change. I went from a school with a mix of Indian, Asian, Caucasian, African
American etc. to a school with primarily all African American and Latino students. I was terrified because the school would have many fights and this is the time where I got made fun of the most probably due to the fact that the education system was so low that I felt I dropped back a grade or two, and most importantly 9-11 just had occurred not too long ago. I was miserable and faced much torment due to the ignorant. I was no where close to the people who were involved in the 9-11 attacks but due to the poor education system of the southern public schools breading ignorance, I had to face those problems one attach at a time. I would not sit back and let people talk so I talked back and sometime got into trouble from the administration and of course fights I got myself into, without a possible out.
After going through one year in Georgia public schools I made my way to a private Presbyterian Christian Academy. I found myself to grow and better myself at this fine institution. I never felt more at home than I did at this school but at first it was scary, as I was the only Indian American their surrounded by primarily those of the Caucasian decent. I strived to excel amongst my peers and found a place where I was accepted and grow up in peace. I played every sport and joined many clubs while making great lifelong friend, who I still talk to till this day. If I did not attend this school I would not be the man I am today.
After graduation I went to school in Gainesville state college for one year while my mom rapped up her business in Georgia so we could make the move back to Jersey where the opportunities were a lot greater. I transferred to NJIT and found myself to grow even further as I toke my experience that I earned over the years and put it into effect. I am now to graduate at the end of this summer and will most likely work with my Pennwell, the company I last interned with as a Marketing Intern.