Mt. Vernon Township High School
Mt. Vernon, Illinois
Note: This is a multimedia entry that also includes an audio essay and a collage.
"An American is anyone who lives in the United States of America. Whether it is an immigrant or a natural born citizen, they are an American." My second grade teacher used to say this to us when we were in our Social Science class. When I heard these words, I felt an unusual joy. But this joy was not for me, it was for my parents. As I am a natural born citizen, my parents are immigrants. At a young age, I could not quite make out if I was an American or an Asian Indian. My life would always go two ways. When I was at school, I felt like an American. I spoke, dressed, and acted like my classmates. But at home, it was a different story. We spoke a different language and my grandparents always wore different clothes.
At school, I always got along with the other students and as far as I can remember, they liked me. I was treated just like everyone else and everyone, including my teachers, was nice to me. Sometimes I am put in the 'spotlight' when someone asks about my culture and traditions. It is no big deal because it does not bother me. If I am from a different nationality, I will get questions asked about my culture. Sometimes I like it when others ask me about my culture. It shows individuality in me. I do not think there is anything wrong with being different or individual. I am glad that school is not a problem for me because education is important to my family and me.
I often ask my father many times why he came to America. He always says the same thing for better education and more opportunities. Whatever he has done till today and will ever do is for my siblings and me. Because of that, I do not ask him anything else. This way I do not feel guilty of reminding him of his homeland, India. After a hard life in India, my father came here so he can give his children a good education and not give them hardship. I know there is no way I can pay him back for all he does. That is why I want to fulfill his dreams. He wishes to see all his children happy and well settled after we start our careers. And, I know I can make him happy in many other ways, but I want to make him very happy by becoming a doctor. After he knows we are successful, he will be relived and I will be too.
Education is just one area in which America has opened its doors. America is full of different kinds of people and nationalities. I feel as if I am not the only one from a different culture. Along with me, there are millions of other people who live in two worlds. That is the good thing about America. This country gives chances to people to find their spot in this world. I am just one out of a million. In America people can practice their traditions as individuals, rather than just one nationality practicing the same tradition.
In my family, we have many traditions that are not like the traditions of other people. A common tradition is taking off our shoes when entering our homes. When I go to my friends' homes, I sometimes forget they leave their shoes on, and so I start to take off my shoes. Then I remember, so I just follow them into their homes, like everything's okay, nothing went wrong. But when they come to my home, they always take their shoes off, because it is our tradition. And, for that, I respect them. Also, every night we sit together at the dinner table where homemade Indian food is served. We are vegetarians, so there is no meat in the house. Every night, after dinner, we sit in front of God and pray to him for safety, happiness, and for him to always be with us.
Then there are those special days, the holidays. Unfortunately, our holidays do not consist of Thanksgiving or Christmas, but consist of the holidays celebrated in India. Such holidays include Navrati, where we dress up in our cultural costumes and dance a cultural dance all night long at a community gathering. A holiday that follows Navrati is Diwali. This is a five-day celebration for the New Year. Then there are colorful holidays, like Holi. This is when everyone dresses in white and throws around forty different colored powders or colored water at each other to show the absence of darkness.
Here in America, we celebrate Navrati only on weekends. We call up friends and relatives on Diwali to wish them a prosperous New Year. On Holi, if we get lucky, we get to go to a temple close by to celebrate for an hour or two. This is because we do not have off for such holidays here. It is usually on weekdays, some people have to go to work, and others have to go to school. When I was young, I did not know why we got off for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but not for holidays like Navrati and Diwali. As I grew older, I came to realize the differences and learned to adjust to the circumstances.
Although there are so many differences in my two cultures, I never let myself mix them up. I leave my American culture outside my home and I leave my Indian culture inside my home. Sometimes I find it hard when I am stuck in the doorway. I remember what my father said once at the dinner table. He said, "Yes, I grew up in India, and all my childhood memories are there. If something happens in India, it will upset me. But I am also living in America. America has also given me a home, so now I must worry about America more than India, as I live here." So, just as my father has accepted America, I must accept my American way of life, but I will never forget my Indian customs.
Return to America, My Home Essay Contest winners
India is a land of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. Nationalism is the only thread which binds the people together in the thread of oneness, despite their belonging to different cultural-ethnic backgrounds. It plays an important role in uniting all Indians from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Students are supposed to write essays on nationalism in various examination and competitions. Here we are providing essays of varying words-length – 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 and 400 words – and they can take their pick as per their needs to articulate their sense of pride in the oneness of their vast, beautiful and strong nation.
Essay on Nationalism 1 (100 words)
Nationalism means the spirit of devotion to the nation, which must permeate the hearts and minds of every citizen of the country. This is the reason why national anthem is played in educational institutions, and now even in cinema halls before the start of the movies, and the curriculum is enriched with the life stories about the nation’s great sons, heroes and the freedom fighters.
Nationalism is the feeling which gives courage and strength to the soldiers to guard the borders of their country. If the citizens stand united despite being the followers of different religions, speaking different languages, and practicing diverse cultures of their regions, no internal or external threat can harm their country. India is a prominent example of this all-pervasive sense of nationalism that has always served the nation well.
Essay on Nationalism 2 (150 words)
Nationalism is a concept according to which the nation is considered to be supreme – deserving the highest priority. Nationalism is an ideology that promotes the shared identity of the citizens of any country. For a nation’s progress and prosperity, it is imperative that its citizens rise above their regional identities and strengthen the sense of pride in their nation.
There are many countries, including India which are culturally, religiously and linguistically diverse and in these countries the sense of nationalism helps achieve unity in diversity. For the development of India, it is imperative that its citizens work together despite being different in their thoughts and ideas and it can be made possible only through developing a sense of nationalism among them.
Indians have a deep sense of nationalism and this is the reason why they always stand untied when it comes to respecting and honouring their national flag, national anthem and national symbols, which all leads towards preservation of the unity and integrity of the country.
Essay on Nationalism 3 (200 words)
Nationalism means rising about narrow identities of caste, religion and regions to feel a deep sense of pride in our nation. Lord Ram rightly told brother Lakshman after defeating Ravan that the famed golden city of Lanka hardly appeals to him as Janani janmabhoomischa swargadapi gariyasi (Mother and motherland are superior to heaven).
Our country does not practice any sense of discrimination to any citizen as they enjoy all rights and privileges. It is the duty of all of us to foster the unity and integrity of India by a sense of nationalism that transcends all barriers of region, religion and language.
It was this overriding spirit of nationalism that won India freedom from the British after years of hard struggle and innumerable sacrifices. At that time India was divided into several princely states but it stood as one nation in the struggle for freedom. We have to preserve and protect this freedom as even seven decades after independence; there are threats to national security and unity from the separatist and secessionist forces within and outside India. Only a deep-rooted feeling of nationalism can save India from any further division in the name of right to self-determination in Kashmir or insurgent movements in North-East India.
Essay on Nationalism 4 (250 words)
Nationalism means that we carry in our hearts, respect, love and gratitude for our motherland. Although this sense is bestowed on us naturally, but due to some external causes, or may be due to a little ignorance or vicious propaganda, there have been movements espousing anti-national feelings such as the ones witnessed in Kashmir or North-East India. But thanks to the unwavering sense of nationalism in its citizens, India has stood firm as one nation, foiling the designs of separatist forces.
Putting the nation first
As a mother gives birth to her children and overpowers many obstacles to extend love and care on them, our nation also does the same for us. Just like a mother, our motherland also bears the pain while producing means of survival and nourishment for all of us. Scholars have said all the vegetation, rivers and other natural resources of the place where we take birth act as the greatest gifts to live a happy and peaceful existence. It is the affection and the sense of honour towards our motherland that makes us stand strongly in front of the other nations around the world.
In fact, a nation is born only when all citizens living in its boundary share a sense of oneness in cultural heritage and involvement with each other. It is this undiluted sense of nationalism that binds India in one thread from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The feeling of nationalism has always prevailed over differences of cast, creed and religion in a vast country like India. Indians justifiably take pride in living in the largest democracy of the world, known for its values of peace, human brotherhood and collective progress.
Essay on Nationalism 5 (300 words)
The kind of love, affection and the blessings that a mother showers on her baby while nursing him is incomparable and the same is true with our motherland. Just like a mother who can never think of anything other than the betterment of her children, our nation also showers motherly love on us, without expecting anything in return from us. But it is imperative for every Indian to have a sense of pride and gratitude towards the nation, in other words, practice nationalism in words and deeds.
India is one nation, despite religious and regional diversity
Nationalism binds us all in a spirit of oneness, despite all of us having different customs, holding different beliefs, observing different festivals and speaking in different languages. It is the sense of nationalism that protects the nation against all threats and dangers to its unity and integrity. We can have our different identities as people living in culturally and linguistically distinct states, but stand together as one under one flag, national anthem and national emblem. We can take our place with pride among citizens of the world as proud and loyal citizens of the largest democracy of the world.
The importance of our motherland surpasses all other considerations of caste, creed, and religion. It is only through this deep sense of nationalism and patriotism that we can safeguard our freedom that we achieved after supreme sacrifices and sufferings by millions of sons and daughters of India. Let us never dilute the spirit of nationalism to repay our debts to our motherland.
There are some forces at work which want to weaken the country by spreading separatist feelings and cries for azadi (as witnessed in troubled parts of Kashmir and North-East India). It is unfortunate that some educational institutions in India were recently in the thick of anti-India sloganeering and protests with cries of tearing apart India rending the air. Only an unwavering sense of nationalism can save the country from falling a prey to the evil designs of anti-India forces.
Essay on Nationalism 6 (400 words)
A sense of attachment and dedication towards the country in which one resides is called nationalism. Nationalism is the only reason which keeps every citizen of a country united despite their differences on linguistic, ethnicity and cultural fronts.
Equating nation with mother
Not only in our country but in the entire world, the nation is commonly treated as mother, because as a mother does for her children a nation cares for its citizen and rears and support them with the help of various natural resources without which requirements and purpose of life cannot be completed. It has been observed that during the times of conflicts and war, common citizens of the nation also get united and support their soldiers and the government.
Nationalism binds people in one thread
Nationalism is a collective sense of idea, the power of which can be sensed through the reality that the people living in the country’s borders ignore their differences and give importance to the loyalty towards the nation. Even they do not hesitate to give supreme sacrifice for their nation if it becomes necessary for the survival of their nation. Only because of the sense of nationalism, the people of different part of a country who may be completely unknown to each other get united, develop consensus and also discuss together on the issues related to their nation and find a common solution.
Nationalism and Globalisation
According to some scholars, the process of globalisation has influenced the nationalist thinking up to a major extent and now because of it the sense of national borders as well as the nationalism no longer exit and it has become a challenge to be handled. They argue that globalization and technological progress, such as internet and mobile phones have together turned the world into a global village and thus there is no sense of nationalism as a core value. However, this interpretation of nationalism is immaterial.
For the progress of any nation it is important that its citizen keep alive the sense of nationalism within them. Observing keenly the importance of developing sense of nationalism and spirit of love for their country in their citizens, every government around the world essentially organize their national festivals in which honouring the national flag is an important activity. Overall, the progress of any nation largely depends on the sense of nationalism in their citizens which is an important feeling to bind all the citizens together despite them hailing from different religions, castes, or social strata.