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I Am 100% Ouseph {Jenny}

100% is a guest post series focusing on multicultural identity and the unique journey of connecting with more than one culture. To share your story, click here.



I will list couple of the reasons why I appreciate my dad and why he has been crucial and shaped my multicultural identity living in America. 

I get most of these “skills” and habits from my dad, and I am quite proud of them. I didn’t spend most of my childhood with my dad, but for a number of years I did, and I learned a lot. 


 

Eating At Home

I learned that eating out is not his favorite thing. I was never a fan of this because, I mean seriously, why not try something new? But he didn’t want to “waste” money when we could eat a delicious Indian meal at home.

His theory is: why spend money at restaurants where we don’t know where the food comes from? He would say, “They probably don’t even wash their hands." I always thought this was hilarious, but very thoughtful. 

But let me tell you - after living in the South (North Carolina) for the past 12 years or so, if someone buys him some fried chicken, he WILL eat it. 

As a family, we rarely eat out. When I was younger, he had a large round steel plate that I still remember we used to sit around the plate and eat from the same plate (of course, with our fingers).

Gardening

He loves to garden. Every summer he has a garden with unlimited supply of vegetables that he gives away to neighbors and friends. 

He freezes the left over vegetables for winter time. He has things that grow in our backyard that you can’t even get in grocery stores here. 

During the summer months, most of his time at home is spent outside at the garden. I always hated it when I was living at home because he used to ask us to go help him, but now I am so grateful for it. 


Incorporating India

My dad does things around the house like he is living in India. He reads several different newspapers and listens to news channels from India and talks about it even if no one else really cares. 

But now I appreciate it because we are aware of things going on back home. 

He also loves watching Indian movies - only the ones to which he can relate or that “make sense.” He will say that it is all “nonsense” if it some violent movie that he doesn’t care for.


Achachen

He always wanted us to call him achachen instead of dad, which is what he called his dad.

It is really interesting to me because normally, you would call an uncle or older brother achachen. Even Indians look at us funny when we call him that because most of the time in India you call your dad Appa, Pappa, Dad, Pappaji, etc. 

He doesn’t have an explanation for this, but that is what he prefers, and I love it. 

How did this impact my identity? It is unique - it has meaning in my dad’s and my heart which no one else will understand, and that is okay. I learned to hold onto what is true to self and not change it because of circumstances. 


Language

This last one I give credit to both my parents. If we were at home, we had to speak in Malayalam (my mother tongue).

They have not been so strict these recent years, but they really wanted us to not forget the language. I am so grateful for it because a lot of Indians move to America and forget their language. 

Now a days it is mixed with Malayalam and English, but all three of us (my sisters and I) are still fluent. 


I’m sure I have many more, but these are some of the things I am grateful for which have shaped me. And this is who I am.

Jenny Ouseph has her roots in India, but relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2002 with her parents and two sisters. She received an education degree at Central Piedmont. She participated in Mission Year (10-11) and served as an alum intern in Houston, Texas. She now works as a recruiter. Jenny enjoys music, books, coffee shops, the outdoors and random adventures. Follow Jenny on Twitter.




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