My culture, Hinduism, and race, Indian, have been the most influential characteristics in my life. These two characteristics combined also influence my other characteristics such as my age and sex. In America, my age restricts me from doing many things; but coming from a Hindu background brings me many more responsibilities along with my age. My sex prohibits me from achieving many life goals that other people would have no problem achieving. My ethnicity and culture have had a very big impact on my social life.
Learning that I was different from others was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I learned about one of my dominant characteristics in the second grade. One day in class, Steven Vogel cut out little red dots for me because I did not already have one on my forehead. He also howled like an American Indian and did a rain dance for me. That day, I realized that I was different and I would have to live with it for the rest of my life. I lived in a southern town of Florida near the border of Alabama where many people were not open to other races; so I would have to get used to the taunting. At that time, I realized that I am Indian.
Growing up, everyone wants to be in the ?in-group.? Being an Indian Hindu girl, I was told not to go out. I was not allowed to go to football games, school dances, or any other after-school functions. No matter how much we want to be in the popular group in high school, most Indian children belong in the group between the ?in-group? and the ?nerds.? Hindu parents usually do not let their children go out because they believe their children will be corrupted. For example, I really wanted to go to my senior prom, but I was not allowed to. I was not even allowed to get a job like a normal teenager. This summer I asked my parents if I could so that I could save up for college. My father did not let me get a job because I had to stay home to learn how to cook.
Females have very little advantages in my culture. We are not allowed to be too educated. If a woman is too educated, she is basically considered to be no good, modern, too independent and an instigator of family problems after marriage. The belief that girls should not be allowed as much freedom and independence as men hinders other women, from achieving many of our life goals and me.
With age I have many responsibilities and restrictions. Most of my restrictions come from living in America. I am not yet allowed to vote. I am not given many job opportunities: I went to the mall a week ago to find a job but most of the stores require their employees to be eighteen.
Another restriction that my ethnicity, along with age and sex, brings is marriage. A good Indian girl is engaged by the age of twenty-one or twenty-two. I am only seventeen years old, but I am expected to know how to cook and clean because this is the prime age when the adult ?matchmakers? observe me. I expect my life in the future to include being a housewife. I approve of the concept of housewives, but I would like to be more educated. The times have slowly been changing. I am a first generation Indian-American and I have more privileges than my parents did. Because of the changing times, I may be able to fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor.
The typical Indian, Hindu family instills the importance of respect and morals into their children. I have learned to appreciate all of the values that my parents have taught me while growing up. This is a big privilege because when I look out in the world, I see families who teach their children to hate or do not teach their children the significance of respect. I was taught also to especially respect my teachers. Many people, however, do not have that same respect. I am proud that I have had the chance to learn and grow up with the values and principles that are taught by Hinduism.
I also consider arranged marriages to be a privilege. When taking world history in high school, my peers would constantly ask how I could have an arranged marriage. They made it sound as if it was something bad. My parents have raised me and I believe that they know what is best for me. They know what I need an