Dillon Srivastava, a 13-year old 8th grader, thought about who he believes he is when his class was asked to write on "Who Am I"? What do you write when you're an American with a second generation Indian American father and a white mother who is herself a daughter of a Canadian mother and an Irish father? What do you write when you have 8 Indian American first cousins (not to mention more than a dozen 2nd cousins) and you thoroughly enjoy celebrating numerous Indian traditional festivals and ceremonies that are full of colors topped only by upbeat songs and merry dancing? What do you write when you love listening to the stories that your Indian grandparents tell of the times they were in India, when you devour the tales that your Canadian grandmother narrates about Canada and when you soak-in the Irish folk fables that your Irish grandfather often recounts to you? What do you write when your roots spread over three different countries across the globe and you love visiting all of them, enjoying different aspects of each as you find yourself in the deep rooted traditions and cultures there?

The more Dillon thought about the topic, the less he knew what to pen down for his teacher. That was until his dad walked in from work. When Dillon asked his dad's help in writing the piece, the dad's reply was simple. " Follow your heart", he said. That is exactly what Dillon did. And what he came up with, encompasses every aspect of his being- the diverse root and the elementary boy. May it serve as a reminder to all of us that sometimes in lieu of thousand words, exposing our children to their roots and instilling in them the confidence to follow their heart, suffices.  

Here's is Dillon Srivastava's prose on "Who Am I?".

I am from the boats of the bay, from the Rodman to the Sea Rays and the
the sparring gloves I use in the dojo.
I am from heat of Texas, openness of Orinda, and crispness of San
Francisco all different yet the same because of me.
I am from the the beautiful flowers growing all around my life, the orchids,
a blossoming beauty, white perfect roses that look rather royal, daffodils,
and daises, all sprouting up with new memories that will last lifetimes.
I am from dancing and cleaning up nicely, from Denise and Deepak from
India, Canada, and Ireland.
I am from the tendency to temper, in ways I can't forget and the tendency
to forget, which when I do, I regret.
From " Why do tomorrow what you could do today " and " Do your
homework", I try to live by these because I must.
I am from Catholicism, the light of of the church candles in my heart, like
flame everlasting.
I am from Texas, the family, friends and memories of my first years all
stacked in unforgettable photo albums, part of me from India, the foreign
land of beauty, memories and more family than than I can count, and part
of me from Canada, from the stories from my grandmother of the ice and
snow; I am from my diverse dishes of my every day life, day in, day out.
From a family who immigrated to America, my father, only 1, a veteran in
the Vietnam War, my grandfather.
From photos, and albums of them stacked high, my life is pinnacle
perfection yet imperfection equally in many ways.
I am from my family, and my friends, the smiles of my day; the ocean, my
second nature, and India, one of my soul lands of family.
This is where I'm from, this is me.


(Picture Above: Dillon Srivastava, front-left, with his siblings and cousins)