My Summer 2017

So far this summer, I have visited Chicago and Atlanta. While both trips were for events and not necessarily sightseeing, my trip to Chicago gave me an interesting perspective that I’d never seen before on my identity. For that, you need a little context…

I am from Honavar, India. This is a small coastal town in the state of Karnataka in India, and is just miles from the Arabian Sea and the beach. India in general has way too many languages for everyone to count, but the main language of my state is known as Kannada (not to be confused with Canada). The problem I faced growing up is unique from those of others, because I’m not just a minority. I came from a small group of people known as Havyakas, whose dialect is mostly similar to traditional Kannada, but slightly different. Amazingly though, most modern Kannada speakers, not from that group, have difficulty understanding it, and that’s understandable. If you take the sentence “I ate, mom!” and remove the comma, you have a different sentence entirely. Similar issues are encountered during communication between the groups.

What that should indicate is that I’ve become a minority within a minority within another minority.

I’m a minority in America because I am Indian.

A minority among Indians because I speak Kannada.

A minority among Kannada speakers because of my dialect.

It’s like Inception, but with minorities.

As a result, in my school and where I lived, it was very hard to find someone like me, and I was often mocked for my tongue among the Kannada speakers at my school. However, this trip to Chicago introduced me to “my people”, as it was a convention of only Havyaka people. For the first time, I could understand every single person there and talk freely in my tongue without fear. I could listen to quality performances and relate with people who had their name misspelled the same way I did (Hedge instead of Hegde). I felt truly at home among everybody there with regards to communication, which was an unusual feeling because I’m no slouch in the communications department. Friends were made instantly, and tremendous amounts of food were consumed. The experience meant a lot, as now, I do not feel like an endangered species anymore. I feel like I am part of a larger group that can stand together. I left very happy and a changed man, and the sense of community that I felt for the first time in my life will never leave me. I wish to attend again in two years if the MCAT has been taken care of by that time, and am glad that I was able to go to this one.

 

G.O.A.L.S. Update

It would be foolish to assume that everything I intended to do worked out perfectly. Appropriately, these are my updated goals.

Global Awareness: I intend to study abroad in Thailand, or volunteer abroad, as I have already learned a great deal about systems in our culture. I wish to learn more about how this works in other countries. I do have many experiences in India, as I was born there and have visited numerous times. However, Europe, Africa, Eastern Asia, along with South America continue to evade my grasp and my understanding.

Original Inquiry: I will continue to work in the Riffe Building under my PI focusing on RubisCO research. My goal is to work on my own project, with the intention of going to the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum and presenting there. I am also shadowing a cardiologist and neurologist, and hope to shadow an Infectious Disease Specialist soon.

Academic Enrichment: I will continue to push towards my goals, and will take rigorous coursework primarily in the Honors category to provide me with the maximum possible education I can achieve.

Leadership Development: My freshman year, I was in the AAA Leadership Development Program, and ran my own event with over 200 people known as Spring Olympics. I was in charge of organizing the event with the gym, obtaining supplies and trophies, renting the space, and ensuring that everything ran smoothly even when it did not.  This year, I am currently an AOSCH Chair on the Mirrors Sophomore Honorary, in addition to being Advocacy Co-Chair in the Asian American Association Executive Board. I wish to use these positions to influence the actions of these organizations and help them focus on the right path, as both roles possess great flexibility that allows for me to dictate where and what to do from this point on.

Service Engagement: I currently volunteer at the Rardin Free Clinic and James Cancer Hospital during the academic year, and at the Alzheimer’s Association during the summer, primarily working with data entry. In addition to this, I coach speech to children on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the summer, in addition to directly mentoring my novices in debate on the Speech and Debate Team.