CULTURE
What does culture mean to you? 
As a child of immigrants who's lived in three countries and five states, I grew up encountering more cultures during my childhood than some do in their lifetime. 
I would consider the first chapter of my life to be the time I spent in India, when I’d get my knuckles regularly slapped with a ruler for acting out and would get made fun of by my peers for not knowing a drop of English. I would be in a sea of faces similar to mine, creating a sense of warmth and comfort I would never feel again other than the few times in the future I would return to visit the country. The next chapter would be Singapore, where I’d start to learn my fourth language at the age of 7 and experience a diversity like never before - this was a different sense of comfort, perhaps rooted in acceptance rather than familiarity. 
The next chapter would be when I arrived in America, but I would consider my time in America to be two separate chapters. The first chapter would tell a tale of uncomfortability, feeling out of place, and an incredible sense of confusion. I arrived to America as a child with multiple identities and cultures that didn’t quite fit into any particular mold. I entered my teenage years and experienced high school with the same cultural confusion and it quickly turned into a dark period of time for me; I didn’t know who the hell I was and what I was doing here. I didn’t know why I hadn’t "assimilated" and why the American culture was so hard for me to decode.
And this is where my fourth and final chapter begins. I now consider myself to be a creative, confident, and an accomplished young adult living in a beautiful city. Laughably, I’m currently an advertising student who wants to study and analyze cultures for a living. The thing is, I wouldn’t be able to get to my happy ending if it weren’t for the chapters that preceded it. By experiencing the plethora of cultures that I did during my early years, I learned how to embrace and appreciate different cultures. By not fitting in, I recognized the beauty of being different and following the untraditional route. With the confusion that came with not being able to understand the rules of a culture came the beautiful insight that this exact belief was what didn’t allow me to understand who and where I was - cultures don’t have rules. Cultures are forever evolving and contorting. A culture uses its fluidity to embrace things, ideas, and the people that don’t quite fit in and welcomes them inside to create a more intricate, complex, elaborate version of itself. An elaborate culture is the best culture. 
I was one of those people. When I realized that the only way I could feel at peace would be simply believe in myself, my ideas, and my story, I knew I had to shed the doubt and fear of being different that I had instilled in myself through years of feeling out of place. I realized that culture isn’t something you decode, but something that you make your own. 
TEDxDePaul University
I'm giving a TED talk! In my talk, I discuss the unique cultural perspective I gained through being raised by parents that had an arranged marriage. I talk about love, culture, and how the two impact each other. You can view the program here
 MATCHBOX MAGAZINE
As two young creatives living in the best city in the world, my roommate and I decided to combine our capabilities through a magazine that focuses on the abundant Chicago culture and talent around us. Through interviews and photographs we aim to capture other’s stories, their visions, and what they bring to the table. Through organizing art shows and concerts, we hope to serve as a catalyst to bring together the incredible cultural and artistic communities of Chicago. Being two women of color, we are especially focused on the unique skills that can be found in other women and people of color. We believe in representation, in imagination, in vulnerability. We believe in collaboration and creatives lifting up other creatives. This is Matchbox Magazine. Check us out at our Instagram.
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