American Opportunity in Austin
Nali only visited India a couple of times when she was younger, but she has fond memories about her time there. She loved visiting her parents' homeland, and didn't mind the often hot and humid weather.
Her trips to India were refreshing, more than anything. As a first generation Indian-American, Nali found balancing both sides of her identity challenging. This was especially true for Nali, who hails from Temple, Texas, a small, rural railroad town.
Raised in a town where no one looks liked her and religion separated her from the rest of the community, Nali felt one step removed from the rest of her community.
Despite having a degree of separation from her and her community, Nali developed close friendships during her childhood that still persist today. She talked about how she expanded her definition of family to include those who she cares about and shares a strong, mutual level of trust with. Her parents also played a crucial role in teaching her the value of helping others around you in the work you do.
Most striking about Nali is her intersection of identities and experiences. Not only is she a first generation female, Hindu-raised, Indian-American, but Nali is also a low-income student. At college, Nali suddenly became surrounded by students hailing from largely middle and upper-middle class backgrounds, and faced certain barriers that most of her peers did not have to reckon with.
Nali spoke at length about how being both a low income student and a person of color left her feeling displaced from the rest of her peers at college, despite being in a more diverse and progressive environment.
Even though she started off at a disadvantage, her hard work and dedication allowed her to transcend the inherent barriers that she faced. It's that experience that has motivated her to go into non-profit work and help others.
Nail has volunteered at a variety of non-profit organizations, most of which help resettle refugees and provide legal service for immigrant detainees. In our conversation, she recalled a helping a Syrian refugee resettle in Austin.
Nali is extremely passionate about immigration, hoping to help people become American citizens and gain access to similar benefits that she and her family have reaped. She will be studying abroad in Sciences Po in Paris this fall, and is thinking about attending law school to further her professional goals of improving the United States' immigration system. A more progressive America is what Nali envisions, but that does not mean to her that we simply reject opposing points of view.
While she does recognize there will always be issues that her and her conservative models may disagree with, Nali argues that differing political views should not divide us and we can learn from each other no matter whether we are on the political spectrum. It's the primary reason why she still loves and believes in America, despite its deep divisions.