Seeing different colors

Cherubs have a hand in cross-cultural sharing. Photo by Dani Lyle.

Cherubs have a hand in cross-cultural sharing. Photo by Danika Lyle.

On the first day of cherubs, I surveyed the room searching for a brown face. “Maybe she’s Indian,” I would think.

I searched for someone I could relate to, someone I could discuss dramatic but addicting Indian soap operas with, someone who would enjoy the Indian snacks I brought from home. I searched for someone I could share my culture with.

In the first week, I met the other Indian in the program.

Later, I met two other girls who watched Indian soap operas.

Then, I met six people who finished my Indian snacks with me.

By the fifth week, I realized I could share my culture with 79 cherubs.

My school is divided by race. We have the “Asian Crew” next to the staircases, the “White Squad” in the parking lot and “Browntown” in the academic quad. And the rest, the minorities, they’re the misfits. They don’t have a place at school to call “home.”

At the beginning of cherubs, I felt like a misfit. “I can’t find my people,” I told my parents on the first night. I am not used to the range of colors, I complained. I told my dad to hold off on his offer to fly to Chicago to comfort me, and I gave these different colors a chance.

My following nights consisted of conversations about the Oxford comma, religion as an ethical code and the likelihood that Serena van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl actually got into Columbia College.

As Mary Lou Song put it, “I was the biggest dork in high school, but when I came to cherubs I finally felt like I found my people.”

I started to feel at home among people who didn’t share my skin color.

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Avni Prasad finds “her people” at the program. Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum.

On the second day (by that time I was already missing homemade food) I insisted on eating at an Indian buffet, Mt. Everest. In a group of 20 other girls, I was the expert. The conversation only started with questions about Indian food. It ended with a discussion about Indian marriages and religion.

Even though everyone at that table did not embody my culture, I could still share my culture.

Cherubs forced me to expose myself to colors foreign to me. And because of it, I gained not only an understanding of other races beyond the textbook but also pride for my own color.