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Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships  Every week a different Fellow takes over our IG account to share their New American story. #immigrants #NewAmericans #immigrantkid


Hello, my name is Lorenzo Rakesh Sewanan, and I was very happy and surprised to be selected as 2017 PD Soros Fellow. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be sharing some stories and pictures from my life journey, moving from Suriname to New York and then onwards for college and for my MD/PhD. Here is a picture of my mom, dad, and sister nearby our home in Jamaica, Queens, New York. I will share more about my family in the coming days as well. #immigrants #NewAmericans #iamanimmigrant #Suriname #Queens

Ahoy, I’m Peter Hong, a 2017 PD Soros Fellow. Every year around this time I'm reminded of how little I knew the year prior. I think about how many of my views of the world were broken and repaired, and I reason it’s a healthy dash of luck that I made it through the year at all. This photo gives me hope that at least I understood the power of a good donut from an early age.

I’m Peter Hong, a 2017 PD Soros Fellow. This little menu encapsulates a gift I’m eternally grateful for: my parents tirelessly working to ensure I learned Korean. I argued constantly with my parents about having to spend time outside of school on what appeared to be school work. Workbooks in Korean, reminders to speak Korean, and bland writing assignments also in Korean.

I didn’t have the foresight to understand it was more than learning a language. It was being able to speak directly with my grandmother, understanding the history of my parents and their lives in Korea, and engaging with a Korean immigrant community in the US that supported me through adulthood.

While my Korean typing is slow and I still need practice to keep up, the language is permanently embedded in my mind. Sometimes I think in it, sometimes I switch input to ask my mom for a Korean recipe, but most importantly it is an indelible parental contribution to my Korean-American identity.

Hey folks, I’m Peter Hong, a 2017 PD Soros Fellow. I was an early proponent of tacos, but an irrational opponent of burritos. There was no formal argument, no reasoning, just an elementary school era kid's logic. It was, as I now see was so common, my mom who could build the case for trying, and ultimately loving, the burrito.

My mom challenged me with this burrito logic at every turn, from deciding to push on practicing percussion and piano, to continue studying Korean language. She impressed on me the discipline to understand the trade off of immediate discomfort and long-term benefit.

I’ll never fully appreciate how much of a leap of faith and a suspension of disbelief it took to come the US. I won’t understand living in post-war Korea, or competing in an ultra-high stakes educational environment. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the hard lessons from those experiences in the form of what I fondly refer to as burrito logic.

Hi! I’m Peter Hong, a 2017 PD Soros Fellow. I saw this picture of my dad, Kitae, at my nephew’s first birthday. I imagined this photo over twenty years ago, with my dad celebrating my early birthdays, likely with more Beatles-esque hair. It’s still difficult to imagine the resolve necessary to seek education in the US, while having little to no English, money, or relationships. His focus on education brought him from rural to urban #Korea, and eventually to the US. While the plan was to return, he chose to stay and eventually settle in Michigan. I’m in awe of his resilience through many wrinkles along the way, such as my near drowning as a three year old or his misinterpreting a syllabus and completing a semester’s worth of work in a week. When I’m back in Korea, I try find hints of this past life. My greatest find was his old vinyl collection of American rock bands. I couldn’t believe my dad would be hip enough to have such good taste. But of course, I was wrong.

Hello folks! I’m Peter Hong, a 2017 PD Soros Fellow, and I’m finishing up my last year at Harvard Business School. Every time I reflect, I’m more appreciative of how lucky I am to have my older brother Arthur. As the first child of immigrants, he navigated uncertain paths, carefully noting his observations along the way. When I encountered the same paths, he served as an inspiration and guide. He pushed me to make creative decisions, and served as emissary to my parents when some of my decisions were particularly controversial. Whether aiding and abetting secret video game sessions on school nights, or making me breakfast scrambled eggs, I would be a fraction of my current self without Arthur.

Sanjena Sathian '17 closing out my week on the IG here. Before starting graduate school, I spent two years in India working as a foreign correspondent. Reporting and living in India put me in contact with so many of the daily rituals that comprise meaning there. Here are some photos from those years: on #Holi in #kolkata, at the Sikh #goldentemple in #amritsar, at a #shiva temple in #kerala where my grandmother and I watched dance performances until 3 in the morning during a festival, and at the Tibetan gompa where I meditated for 10 days in #dharamsala, where the #dalailama lives. Learning about and living with these traditions not only stimulated me intellectually but also brought me closer to my grandparents, who had always lived in such a different world from me. My original plan was to go to graduate school to further study religious traditions, but have found myself reflecting on these traditions in fiction at Iowa instead. Thank you to Iowa, to #PDSoros, to my family, and to all of you for the opportunity to share a bit this week. Handing off now to the inimitable entrepreneur Peter Hong, another 2017 Fellow! Enjoy meeting him this week!! 🙋🏾🙏🏾

Sanjena Sathian '17 fellow here! My brother Tejas is three years older than me. My parents say that before I could walk, I would watch Tejas as he played, carefully studying his every move. It's good I did because there was a lot to learn from him and still is. He is a voracious reader and helped set the tone for me to read all the time. Teachers always expected a lot from me when they found out whose little sister I was. Thanks to my big hearted brother for paving the way as the first first-gen Sathian in America! PS. Today, our height difference is about the same...! #bigbrother #desi #desikids #90sfashion #ATL #turtlenecksweater

Hi all, Sanjena Sathian '17 fellow here! My parents are both from south India and met in medical school in Tamil Nadu. They emigrated to Australia and then the US in the 80s. My mom grew up in north India in the desert state of Rajasthan. Her father was an atomic engineer responsible for helping develop the new nation, so they lived in rural environments and she traveled several hours to a school where she could study chemistry to qualify for med school. My father is a neuroscientist who studies how the brain processes metaphor. He has a brilliant, liberal arts mind, and despite coming up through a science-focused education system, has been able to bring his brilliance at science and math to literature, music, and art as he tries to understand what makes us creative. Their combination of work ethic and innovative approaches to their respective fields has shaped me enormously. #thanksmomanddad #doctors #neuroscience #cmcvellore #rajasthan #immigrant #desi #desiparents

Sanjena Sathian, 2017 fellow here. I worked as a journalist for five years before coming to Iowa for grad school. Journalism took me to parts of the country I hadn't previously conceived of, like the fracking boomtowns of rural Pennsylvania, and to parts of the world I'd never thought I could go, like the Indo-Bangladesh border, where I went to report on smuggling routes. This is the cover of the Globalist's fall 2011 issue, which I shot - the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The next frame is the awesome group I interned with at the @pittsburghpg in 2012. My colleagues and journalism mentors did so much more than just teach me how to do a job well. They taught me and others how to "live the questions," as Rilke put it. #globalization #immigrant #onassignment #journalist #istanbul #turkey #bluemosque #pittsburgh #tbt #throwbackthursday

Hi folks! Sanjena Sathian '17 fellow here. Like a lot of Indian American girls, I studied #bharatanatyam, a South Indian classical dance form, growing up in GA. It is the same dance my mother grew up learning halfway across the world. She used to faithfully sit through my long Saturday morning practices so she could help me review the steps later. This dance is all about telling the stories of #Hindu mythology, and embodying devotional poetry. It's part of a rich Indian aesthetic and literary tradition. I didn't know all of this when I was dancing as a teenager or in college, but much of what I was absorbed in all those years ago has come to influence my fiction today. #indiandance #southindia #indianamerican #abcd #desi #desilyfe

Happy Tuesday! Sanjena Sathian '17 fellow here. Since college, I have focused on writing nonfiction and fiction, but before college a lot of my life was devoted to #policydebate. Here I am with my debate partner Rajesh at the 2009 Tournament of Champions. Debate was full of children of immigrants, perhaps because it's where you go when you're obsessed with figuring out the world. Or just because it claimed the nerds. We used to spend hours a week and our summers researching everything from alternative energy policy to the work of Martin Heidegger. The teachers and coaches who led us in those years fundamentally shaped me as a journalist, writer, and thinker, by reminding me there was always more we did not know -- and many ways to find out, if only we were willing to do the work. #teachers #greatteachers #greatcoaches #debate @thewestminsterschools @michigandebatecamp

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