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  • My name is Faizah Binte Yusuf. I was born in Little Rock Arkansas, and have been living here for fifteen years now. Both of my parents are from Bangladesh. I have family in Dhaka, Bangladesh and have visited them as often as I could. I have been there five to six times. I would go more often but there is the issue of the plane tickets cost, traveling cost, and traveling time... the little things. Even though I have lived here for so long and have a good social life at school among the average population of Bryant Arkansas, I still have a close tie to my Bengali heritage. I have friends in the Bengali group in little rock, and we help each other through any hardship we face as immigrants. Even though I have a good social life now among my friends, that wasn't always so.
    When I was first starting school and interacting with other students, I never fit in. I used to cry to my mom about why no one likes me, because there was never a real reason. I didn't really even know I was any different. My parents never taught me there is white, black, or brown. Therefore, I was oblivious to the fact human beings could be seen as any different. We all spoke English; we all lived in Arkansas. We all were human beings with eyes, ears, arms, legs...I couldn't see what their problem was. It wasn't that I was mean to them, I barely even spoke to any of them, but they insisted on ignoring me anyway. I decided I should start acting like them, kind of copying their ways, because if it worked for them if must work for me. Sadly, I was too naive back then to know any better. In return, they thought I was really weird. I still have the tendencies to try to fit in my hardest, even though I know now that I don't need to, old habits die hard. I think it started to even out when being strange became the new normal. We moved to Bryant, around 2004. My fifth grade teacher inspired me to show who I truly am. In Middle school, I started to make friends, who accepted me for who I am and all that comes with it. After a few twists and turns in those three years, I realized that there is now a group of people instead of just a few, with whom I could actually act naturally with. I learned in those years that I should try to step out of my comfort zones in everything that attempted to stop me. I am still very close to those friends, and my friend circle seems to evolve and grow with each passing year. I learned that there are many people who will accept you, no matter how strange you are, you just have to take the first step and find them. I even have a friend who watches Bollywood movies with me, loves my mom’s cooking of Bangladeshi foods, and actually knows a few Bengali words and wants to learn more. She likes my fusion of the two cultures I am surrounded by every day.
    For example my music preference. I love to listen to mainly Pop, any song with rock influences, RNB, alternative…pretty much anything I can get my hands on and sounds good. I love listening to Bollywood music; I keep up with both the American and Bollywood hits. My favorite though is when the song is a fusion of Hindi and English words. It just peeks my interest when people are able to write songs like that, because you need to know both languages well. I also listen to Bangla pop music, but I still prefer Hindi and English.
    I love to watch both Hollywood and Bollywood movies. I think it is funny when Hollywood movies try to copy something of Bollywood movies and vice versa. I love the creativity of both, and the random singing and dancing in an average Bollywood movie.
    We are a close neat family. We watch movies together (both Hollywood and Bollywood), we travel together and we let one another in on how our daily lives are. My mom teaches me classical and folk Indian dances, (and all the usual things a mom teaches her daughter). My parents taught me to be nice to other people because my mom always told me that when I meet people, for most it is not only their first impression of me, but also their first impression of a Bengali and a Muslim. My little sister is my inspiration in life, she thinks of everyday things in the most beautiful and unusual ways. We are trying to teach her to speak both Bengali and English fluently, as I can, but so far, she seems to prefer to speak English. She understands both though so I guess that is a start.
    As you can probably tell, I like a lot of things, so my job preference is unknown to me as of now. I like to help people in any way I can, and I love my two cultures dearly. I do have one thing for certain, after high school that is I will go to college and eventually get my masters at least. Education is very important to my parents, so I plan to uphold that ideal. As I grow, I will choose to grow with the best of both my cultures, and to embrace them with every passing opportunity.
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