Everything is not all great and good, but it just gives you the freedom to do so much here.: Becoming Minnesotan

Nayana Ramakrishnan, July 24, 2008.
  • Name - Nayana Ramakrishnan
  • Age at interview - 47
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 04.03.2001
  • Family Fun Fair, SILC, Como High School, St. Paul, July 24, 2002.

    Asian Indian, Freedom

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Opportunities in America: What kind of opportunities does this person see in America that he/she did not have in the homeland?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    The younger generation of Indian-Americans can often feel more “American” than “Indian”.  They grow up surrounded by friends and classmates who are not Indian, and become influenced by these different cultures.  They feel less guilty about living independently of their family in India, and are eager to pursue the additional opportunities in the U.S. that they may not have had in India.  Some see it as a positive that they are able to have two cultures!  They can continue the Indian cultural practices of their parents, but also operate like any other American in this society. 

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Nayana Ramakrishnan (NR)

    NR:  I just feel on the whole that my experience has been unique. I’ve seen many people come here for work or to be students or because they’ve married someone from here, and their experiences are different, but I feel that I have sort of more of a comprehensive experience in this country, as a child, so I’ve been through my teenage years and so many other different phases of my life in this country, and evolved into this person that I am, which I don’t, I think I would be - many times my older sister and I talk about it and say, “We would have been completely different people if we had lived in India.”

    What we would have been is - well, we were from an upper middle-class family, good prospects. We would have gotten a very good education. I definitely would have gone to medical school in India because it was my father’s wish to have one of his daughters be a doctor and there you don’t have an opportunity to really go off on your own. You do the right thing.

    We certainly were, not programmed, but we were certainly in that - but in coming to this country at such an early age and in that particular time period, I think we’ve gained a lot. I’m very glad that my parents did make the decision to come. I think I would have had a happy life there also, but the exposure and what we have seen, we never, never would have been able to without coming to this country.

    You know, there are great opportunities here. Everything is not all great and good, but it just gives you the freedom to do so much here. So I’m very glad my parents made the right decision in coming. It’s been good for all of us.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To develop; to change.  (evolves, evolving, evolved)


    Noun:  1. Participation in events, leading to knowledge, opinons, or skills.  2. The knowledge thus gathered.


    Noun:  The act of exposing or the condition of being exposed.


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
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