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"Hi my name is Abby Andal and I’m an immigrant to the United States of America. Actually my name isn’t Abby at all. My name is Arunima Chandra Andal. Let me take you back to my first day of 7th grade to to tell you how I got to Abby.


It was the first day at a new school, new country, new world for me. It was my first day at John J Pershing middle school in Brooklyn, New York. Being an immigrant wasn’t different in Brooklyn. I was part of the majority. I remember the first few interactions I had very vividly. First in the Admin office, where I was assumed to not be able to speak English and placed in ESL classes. After acing the English reading/writing/speaking portion, I was moved to the more advanced classes.


Then off to home room, where the pronunciation of my name was butchered. Couple of students threw around some nickname ideas. We tried Abha, Aru or Ari But one of them landed on Abby. The student that landed on Abby was the only Caucasian in my home room class. I didn’t use to like my nickname Abby. But as the years have passed, I seem to mind it less and less. Going from Arunima Chandra to Abby Andal has been quite a journey already. As I get older, I plan to work even harder to keep my Indian heritage in the forefront of my life. So I plan on getting dressed in a lehenga every chance I get. My husband Matt is extremely open and interested in the Indian culture, especially the food. Getting dressed up isn’t his favorite thing but I can occasionally get him to come along on my adventures"

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