Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

June 24, 2015

No Longer Invisible: Nandita Vishwanath

This personal submission is a part of the “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words” project, a story series established to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month at the UW.

Nandita Vishwanath

Name: Nandita Vishwanath

Identity: Indian

Position: UW Staff / Faculty

Organization Involvement: Husky Leadership Initiative

Personal Interests: “I love the traditions around Hindu festivals in South India whenever I am able to visit. The days are filled with celebration, wonderful food, family, and a strong sense of faith.”

“I have learned over the years that our society produces a master narrative that doesn’t include Asian voices, or one that subjects Asian people to the model minority framework. Within this, I often find that South Asian narratives are rarely included at all. As a proud South Asian American woman, I want to bring my rich Indian culture into American society in a way that is not only exoticized in terms of food and fashion.”

My parents immigrated to the US after their marriage and myself and my three siblings were all born in the United States.

I have always associated “home” as a place that is filled with love ones. Because of this, my “home” moves all around the world. I find home in Shimoga and Hyderabad, India – where I spent many summers with my extended family. I find home in Chicago, where my parents immigrated to so my father could pursue medical school. I find home in Spokane, where I grew up with my three siblings. I find home in Tacoma and Seattle, where I have become the person I am today and made connections that will last for a lifetime.

I get the question “What are you really?” in the form of “Where are you from?” quite often. I like to answer this in a way that subtly allows the person asking the question to realize that they are not really asking where I am from, but in fact are assuming that I am not from here. I typically first answer with “Spokane”, my hometown. If that still seems unsatisfactory, I go with “Chicago”, where I was born. At this point, if the person asking the question is still perplexed, it’s time to engage in a conversation about why they are so interested in my ethnicity.

I hope for Asian American stories and experiences to be heard by all in a way that doesn’t stick to one narrative or one stereotype. As a student affairs practitioner, I hope to see APIDA college students embrace their identities, examine how they’ve affected their lives, and how they will empower them for the future.”

View mores stories from the “No Longer Invisible: In Their Own Words” project.