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The daughters of immigrants often straddle two worlds: The one where their parents were born and raised, and the United States, where they built another life. Both places end up shaping who they are.

For our series, “Between Two Cultures,” we spoke to five women who experienced feeling “different” as children growing up in the United States. While some of their stories are similar, their individual experiences speak volumes about what it’s like to exist between two cultures.

Noor Wazwaz

Now, Noor Wazwaz is proud to say she’s Palestinian and Muslim. But when she was a kid, she was “a little embarrassed” because of the way the two groups of people were perceived. Wazwaz was a kid when 9/11 happened. “We weren’t given the chance to mourn and feel sad for our country,” she recalls.

“We were automatically the enemy.”

Growing up in a huge Muslim community in the Southside suburbs of Chicago, Noor Wazwaz felt proud to be a Palestinian American. Then, 9/11 happened.

Posted by The Lily on Monday, February 12, 2018

Kim Ha

Both of Kim Ha’s parents are from Vietnam, and they came to the United States as refugees in the early ’80s.

“I think it would be so different to grow up with parents who weren’t immigrants,” Ha says. “That would completely change how I am, who I am, how I feel emotions.”

Kim Ha used to lie about celebrating Thanksgiving.

Kim Ha's Vietnamese American family doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving. Ha felt embarrassed for being different, and says she used to lie at school about celebrating the holiday.

Posted by The Lily on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Linda Mobula

As a child, Linda Mobula straddled two countries, the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was considered “different” in both.

“When I went back to the Congo when I was 9 years old, it was quite a cultural shock,” Mobula says. “There was stigma associated with the fact that I came from America. I think people assumed that my family had more money, or that we had more means.”

"I felt like an outsider in both cultures."

Linda Mobula grew up in both Tucson, Ariz., and the Congo. "When I go back to the Congo, it feels like I’m from a different country."

Posted by The Lily on Friday, February 16, 2018

Lavanya Ramanathan

Lavanya Ramanathan’s parents are from South India, and they came to the United States in 1972. She’s starting to think more about who she dates and whether or not they’ll fit into her family. “I think it’s a lot to ask them to understand Indian culture, which is definitely at least 50 percent of who I am,” she says.

“I grew up in the era of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.’”

Lavanya Ramanathan distinctly remembers answering questions about a scene from Indiana Jones set in India. The characters ate monkey brains. "I remember being like, 'no, we would never do that, that's crazy.'"

Posted by The Lily on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jeanine Navarrete

In Miami, Jeanine Navarrete was surrounded by the children of immigrants. “Having an immigrant story was very normal,” says Navarrete, whose parents came to the United States from Cuba in the early ’60s. When she got to college, Navarrete found that most people didn’t have the same background. There was a “disconnect between the very Hispanic culture in Miami” and “mainstream American culture,” Navarrete explains.

“My doctor was Cuban. My mayor was Cuban.”

Growing up in Miami, having an immigrant story was very normal for Cuban American Jeanine Navarrete. When she went to college, she realized many didn't have a background like hers.

Posted by The Lily on Monday, February 26, 2018

Why I made ‘Between Two Cultures,’ our series on the daughters of immigrants

PERSPECTIVE | A struggle between two parts of the world