I often say to people that I wasn’t ‘brown’ until I came to the United States. In the current atmosphere that exists in this country, with the political situation being what it is, I’ve been really questioning what the idea of being an international student means at Tufts.
As an international student, by the paper work, I am a lot of things- I’m an F-1 student, who requires an i20 to enter and leave this country and to legally study here. I also, have to consistently have an updated local address, without which my SEVIS record (another big word) will be terminated. I have to consistently be enrolled in 3 classes, because dropping to half-time status is not allowed.
Being an international student here by the paperwork, is hard. However, being an international student here as just a student - that’s a once in a lifetime experience. A confluence of so many different cultures, perspectives and intellectually curious students, Tufts is a place of a lot of conversations. I have had some of the best conversations surrounding me and my identity allowing me to understand my own roots more. And, I don’t mean using buzzwords like “diversity” and having token PoC friends. At Tufts, I’ve found people who genuinely want to know and understand the experience that I come from and what I can bring to the table.
However, for every student who makes a conversation about non-Western cultures intentional, you will find conversations where people stereotype those same cultures left, right and centre. And there are days where as a person of colour, those conversations can be exhausting. But even those conversations have had a silver lining.
Coming to Tufts has in many ways been the best decision I made as a senior in high school, and one of the biggest reasons for that is because of how much I’ve explored and understood what it means to really be a South Indian girl studying in the United States. I’ve understood what I love about my culture, and what I would want to incorporate from others. I’ve learned what best works for me in adapting different aspects of these cultures together and how I can best learn from the incredible people around me. And all of that has resulted in this:
I said at the beginning I wasn’t brown until I came to the USA, I will add, I didn’t understand what my brown-ness meant, until I came to Tufts.