Updated: Jun 15
I was born on July 4, 1968. When I was a kid, my parents told me the fireworks were for my birthday ☺. I felt special until I realized they were to celebrate America’s Independence. My experience with travel began at a very early age. I was a one-year-old when my parents decided to travel the world. My father was a Professor of Finance at the University of New Hampshire and used his summer vacation to travel. He had a fond interest in travel, and since I was a free ticket because I was under the age of two, it was perfect timing for this global adventure. It was the Summer of ’69 (Thank you, Bryan Adams, for a great song ☺) when my parents took me to Hawaii and 10 other countries: Japan, China, Thailand, Greece, Lebanon, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and India. This is also when I met my grandparents for the first time and attended my aunt’s wedding — my first BIG FAT INDIAN wedding ☺. Who would have thought I would be hosting workshops on Indian Culture and Indian Weddings 50 years later? #fullcircle
When I was older, I told my dad that it’s not fair that I don’t remember this trip because I was so young. He replied affectionately to me in his cheesy way, “That’s not my fault that your memory is so poor!” As a one-year-old, I already had a passport book with several country stamps.
Did you know that only approximately 37% of American citizens hold a valid U.S. passport?
The most powerful passports in 2022 are those issued by Japan and Singapore. These passports allow visa-free travel to 192 destinations.
I was fortunate that travel was part of our family’s DNA. I suspect that over the years, this sparked my interest in learning about and having a deep appreciation for cultures. Since then, I have continued to love traveling for work and for leisure, and have covered five continents (Australia and Antarctica still on my list!). Throughout my blogs, I will share stories of my adventures, things I have learned about cultural competency, and invite guest bloggers to share their experiences.
Although I don’t remember much from the trip when I was one, this experience helped shape me and my views in the following ways:
Appreciating my Indian heritage and assimilating to the American culture. For those of you in similar positions with immigrant families, you can always count on having the best of and being proud of both cultures.
Recognizing the different traditions — from dining etiquette to gift giving to communication styles — and realizing there is no right or wrong. I learned from a young age to respect the differences that make a difference.
Finding similarities with other cultures. As an Indian-American, I find many similarities with other Asian cultures, Latino cultures, and Middle Eastern cultures. Even my trip to Ghana to visit my eldest daughter felt like I was visiting India.
Travel and learning from each other is one of the world’s greatest gifts. It’s our differences that spark our interest to learn from each other, and the more we understand, the more we will connect. We also find many similarities with other cultures, whether it be family values or food.
Food is a universal language that brings cultures together.
If I can help even one person understand another’s perspective and move the needle just one degree toward positivity, it is moving our world in a better place of harmony for all.
That’s my mission, and that’s my passion.