There are a lot of differences between the American and Indian culture and values. Things such as philosophy, family values, individuality, and religion are just some modern examples of the many differences between these two major countries. However, you don, t have to come from India to experience how different and influential these cultures are. For most of my childhood, I was exposed to nothing but the Indian culture. Before my parents first immigrated to the United States from India, we lived in a town called Vyera. Vyera was my home, the place where I met all my friends, and the place where I thought I would never leave.

I spoke only Hindi, the official language of India, both to my friends and to my parents. I was pretty much secluded from the outside world because I never left the area, for I felt this was my home. However, my parents felt differently. They wanted me to become accustomed to the ^aEURoeAmerican^aEUR culture.

By being more ^aEURoeAmericanized^aEUR, they felt that life would be better and that my sister and I would be more accepted. For that reason, my family and I moved to America twelve years ago. A big move my parents hoped would be a quick adjustment into the mainstream ^aEUR" the ^aEURoeAmerican^aEUR culture - an adjustment that would ultimately change my values and my perceptions of my cultural background. When I moved from India to the green grassed city of Prescott, Arkansas, I was surprised at how different it was compared to Vyera. There was much less traffic and noise on the streets than I was used to.

I remember pushing my way to get through busy streets when I was in Vyera. Another difference that I noticed was that all the children were Caucasian or Hispanic, while in India I associated with mostly Indians. When I arrived at my new home, I was quickly plunged into the ^aEURoeprocess of being Americanized. ^aEUR My parents enrolled me into Prescott Elementary, a school consisting mostly of Caucasians. Although I was a quick learner in India, it was hard for me because I had to learn English. I did whatever I could to blend in.

I bought cafeteria food and ate American lunches like bologna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly. I tried hard to fit in so that I would be accepted. I did whatever my friends did. I begged my parents to buy me trendy clothes with designer labels. The haircut I had was also very similar to that of my friends. I spoke like them and adopted their ways.

I wanted to no longer be Indian. I hated that part of me. I just wanted to be ^aEURoeAmerican. ^aEUR I hoped that by doing everything they did and following their ways, I would be accepted despite the fact that I wasn, t white.

It was not until eighth grade that I began to realize my changed behavior. A new Indian student was enrolled into my class. He reminded me of myself when I first came. Nilam was conservative, traditional, and very scholarly. Not knowing any better, I felt a bit embarrassed around him. I thought that his appearance would remind everyone of the person I was before.

Because of this, I ignored and avoided him as often as I could. One day, I was eating lunch with my friends and I glanced over towards him. I noticed he was eating one of my favorite Indian dishes, ^aEURTandoori Mug. ^aEUR I summoned enough courage to go visit him. I walked up to him slowly, and asked him for a small piece of the chicken. Nilam happily offered me some.

We spent the rest of the lunch hour talking. I found out that we had a lot in common. We both loved model airplanes, reading books, and girls with skirts. We also found that our parents were similar in both their values and beliefs.

Before long, we became best friends. Through him, I now realize that I found the strength to rouse my long forgotten past. I was afraid to discuss my past with any of my white friends for fear of being treated differently. My new friend Nilam understood that. He pointed out that I was like my white friends before I met him, and that we became friends after realizing we had likenesses other than race and culture that brought us together. Race and culture is not important when making friends, it is our personal character that is important.

To this day, my parents are impressed with the wide range of friends I have and how well I, ve ^aEURoeadapted^aEUR to the American culture. The reason for this is because I am comfortable with who I am. During my childhood, I focused so hard on changing my ways and being accepted that I lost myself in the process. By trying to adopt my friends, values, I gave up my own.

I didn, t have to pretend to be someone I was not, just be who I am. I no longer hated the fact that I was Indian. I accepted who I was. More importantly, I was happy with myself..