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Tanvi Saran (Community Spotlight)

Tanvi is a Punjabi student at Cal that reflects on her identity and what it means to her:

“As the third child of immigrant Punjabi parents, I have to say that my Punjabi is not the best as compared to my other two siblings and that didn’t sit well with me. Mainly because I love the Punjabi language and wanted to be able to communicate fluently with my own people. I took a Punjabi class at Cal which was amazing. Being able to write my name in Punjabi, on my own, and reading my name, made the experience so fruitful. I remember going home and showing my parents the handwriting of the scripts that they were born with was a great full-circle moment for me. I never want to lose this part of my identity and want to continue improving on my reading and writing skills in Punjabi. However, I don’t think anyone who is Punjabi needs to learn how to connect to the Punjabi culture because essentially you are born with it and intrinsically attached to it. Once a Punjabi, always a Punjabi!

As a Punjabi, living in Walnut Creek California was an identity crisis for me. When I started school, I was shocked to see that I was the only brown girl in class. People couldn't pronounce my name and I often had to correct them. People didn’t even know what a ‘Sikh’ was. There were countless incidents involving racism which worsened the identity crisis. Going through so many racial equality issues, I took many initiatives to create racial equity programs by creating curriculums, hosting events, addressing the administration’s poor response, etc. It was also one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to UC Berkeley. I wanted to be with my community and I knew Berkeley had a huge Punjabi/Sikh community that I could feel comfortable around. It was also organizations like the MEMSSA community where people cared about my existence and appreciated me which made me want to go to Cal.

To anyone interested in coming to Cal, find your community. It's important to have one and trust me, you will find it. Your community will give you a voice when you don’t think you have one.”

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