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Q&A: Gauthami Balagopal of Kerala, India Talks About Shattering Cultural Stereotypes

Gauthami Balagopal, 21, is a 4th-year Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience major at the University of Florida.

Nationality: Kerala, India

What are you involved in?

Being Pre-Med, I really don’t have much time apart from school work but one of my most meaningful involvements is volunteering. I volunteer with the Health Outreach and Quality Improvement program in which we provide free health-care to impoverished areas of Gainesville.

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What is your favorite part of your culture?

The colors and the vibrantly diverse traditions.

How has it been growing up in the US with a different background?

Growing up in the U.S. with a difference background has been a struggle and a blessing. It has been a perpetual struggle to “fit in” and create one discrete identity for myself while trying to balance two prominent cultures. However being a part of a different culture has allowed me to diversify myself and become aware of a vast array of cultures present in the U.S., which I consider a great blessing.

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Have you faced any challenges?

As a kid I was always very focused on fitting in and being “just like everyone else.”

This was, however, shattered when kids in my class made fun of me with stereotypical Indian one-liners, about how I worshiped cows or made fun of my name.

I knew I was a little different but instead of trying to shy away from my culture I decided to embrace it. I realized that it’s okay to be different and not “just like everyone else,” it keeps things interesting.

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About Komal Junejo (30 Articles)
I am a 24-year-old Pakistani-American pursuing a career at the U.S. Department of State. I am currently studying for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) in hopes of becoming a diplomat within the Public Diplomacy sector.

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