As the third installment in an ongoing series featuring students from multicultural backgrounds, senior Kanchan Hans describes India’s unique and diverse culture, specifically in her birth city of Punjab, India. Hans was born in India, but when she was one year old, she and her family moved to the U.S. because of her father’s job. She recalls some of her earliest memories being of Indian functions and said music, dance and food are a few of the universal aspects of her cultural she is grateful she can share with others.
Speaking of her Punjabi people, Hans said, “We’re loud, and we love to party.” She embraces the social aspects of her culture and said her diverse background allows her to look at issues she is passionate about — such as women’s rights and rights for transgender people and people of color — through a “non-Western lens.”
Although Hans said she and her family would call themselves Hindus, she sees the label more as a cultural or ethnic title rather than strictly a religious one. For a while when she was growing up, Hans said she felt embarrassed to listen to Indian music in the car with her brother or expose others to parts of her native culture or language. Over time, however, she began to embrace her identity and started learning to speak, read and write Hindi as a way to regain her connection to her heritage. Hans also expressed her frustration when people try to impose the “model minority” myth on her or others, as well as when people do not include India as part of Asia.
This video provides a glimpse into Hans’ life, her thoughts on diversity and cultural acceptance, specifically with her own Indian heritage, and how racism and cultural appropriate are still prevalent and problematic in today’s society. To see Hans participate in this year’s annual India dance, click here.
How did Hans’ story change your understanding of India? Let us know in the comments below.