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Journey for Social Recognition

Time 0:03:29

Transcript:

I grew up in a small island in India called Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Our family had four girls, and we were always discouraged by close relatives and the community for only having girl children. My aunts would say, why does she have to study, she is going to work in a kitchen anyway. You have to save money for their marriage not for their education. But, my parents encouraged all four of us to have a good education and to be independent of our own life. I wanted others to look at our family and see that girls can do better.

After high school, I moved to mainland India, and joined the Tamil Nadu Veterinary University to do my bachelor in fisheries sciences. I got the Best Student of the Year medal when I graduated. Always I wanted to be the top in the field I studied, and I knew I could achieve more. This was not my limit. And yet, when my father came from the island to take me to an interview for my Masters, my aunt asked, why are you taking her to Delhi? It’s a waste of time. It made me so angry and I worried, will it change my father’s mind? But he said to her, I don’t want her to come back one day and say, you didn’t let me study further.

After my Masters in Bombay, I moved to Canada to do my Phd. In Halifax, for the first time in my life I felt no one was judging me for being a girl. I had complete freedom to think and do what I like. I met a lot of international students from all over the world. I was forced to speak in English, and nobody insulted me for my language not being so good. They were so curious to know about India, and gave value to whatever I said. I always had friends to hang out with, and never felt lonely. It was a home away from home.

After finishing my Phd, I returned to India. The same people who were judging and discriminating, they were surprised that I could survive on my own. Maybe they were even a little jealous that I was now the highest educated person in my family. They were telling their children and grandchildren to be focused like me to reach their goals. My parents were also getting more respect. This is not only because of me. My sisters stayed in India, and all became engineers. Now, wherever we go, we are all treated like VIPs.

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