“Between Two Cultures” will run in five parts throughout the week of Feb. 12. Check out The Lily’s Facebook page to keep up with the series.

When I first moved to the United States in 2015, I started noticing my surroundings — people, their habits and their stories — in a way I never had in my home country, India.

I increasingly became curious about people who grew up with two very different cultural backgrounds, those who are loosely referred to as hyphenated Americans.

One of my first friends in the U.S., Siri Bulusu, grew up in a South Indian household in Rockford, Ill. She told me about her experiences as a little girl when she was bullied for the yogurt rice she brought for lunch or for the oil in her neatly plaited braids.

“In India, we were American and in America, we were Indian,” she told me when I talked to her recently. “Neither one was good enough for the other.”

Over the two years that I lived in the U.S., most of the stories I worked on as a journalist revolved around the lives of immigrants and refugees. At the center was often a struggle between the two parts of the world they belonged to.

In our latest video series, “Between Two Cultures,” I am sharing the stories of five women who were born to immigrant parents in the U.S. Together, we explore identity, language, food, sexism and belonging.

“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

We met and spoke to about 30 women in the Washington area to find five who would be willing to share their American story.

“Between Two Cultures” delves into the lives of a Cuban American, an Indian American, a Palestinian American, a Vietnamese American and a Congolese American.

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

I was most moved by how closely my experiences aligned with theirs even though I grew up 8,000 miles away in a country where I didn’t look different. As kids, most of us struggled with finding ways to seamlessly fit in instead of standing out. And as adults, it’s become a little easier for us find pride in our identity.

The last two years have been particularly challenging for many immigrants and people of color, and I hope this series will not only share different ideas of culture and family life but will also put on display how inclusive and diverse America is at its best.

I hope you will find parts of yourselves, your family members and friends in the stories of these five women. And I hope you will embrace your own identities along the way.

She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.

PERSPECTIVE | Liana Montecinos is the real face of immigration