Saranya Jena is a junior at Perk Valley, but her story began quite different from most. She was born and raised in New Delhi, India for the first seven and a half years of her life. In August of 2011, her family made the move from India to Pennsylvania.
“2011 ke agast mein usake parivaar ne bhaarat se pensilaveniya ka rukh kiya.”
They made this drastic move across the world because her mom had found work in the U.S. Their family had some comfort knowing that her colleagues and cousins also resided in the surrounding area. Having familiar faces and big dreams of one day moving to the states made the move less scary.
“It was quite challenging and a learning curve for me. I liked settling into a new country on my own and adapting a new set of cultures. It was a completely different environment not only because of the social but also the physical aspects,” Mrs. Jena, Saranya’s mom, said.
Saranya was still a child at the time and said, “It just felt like a long vacation that slowly turned into a home.”
“yah sirph ek lambee chhuttee kee tarah laga jo dheere-dheere ghar mein badal gaee.”
She began her 2nd grade year at Methacton before later transferring to PV in 8th grade. All of this change was difficult, especially because Saranya was an only child, but this encouraged her to make friends her own age. Her first friend in this school district was Megha Joshi.
“When she came in 8th grade we shared a few common friends so we got to know each other a little. Coming from similar backgrounds, we easily bonded. We ended up walking home everyday and our moms met and became friends through us,” said Megha.
Even with this exposure to new places and cultures, her family remained true to their roots back in India. They have continued to participate in traditional Hindu celebrations like they once did in New Delhi. The Jena family has also maintained their first language of Hindi by switching between that language and English at home.
“I love living in a household that is bilingual and my parents have always persuaded me to speak it at home. It’s almost like having two different lives, it totally helps establish a home and work life situation. I am definitely going to encourage this in my own household someday in the future,” Saranya said.
She may have not gotten the chance to to choose where she lives, but says that she finds both places home. Saranya hopes only to continue to travel between the two countries in the future.
“Saranya ko ummeed hai ki bhavishy mein donon deshon ke beech yaatra jaaree rahegee.”
“Ideally I would like to live in both places, spend my summers in India and have my home and work life here. I think one thing that moving has taught me is to never be afraid to take chances and start from scratch. Family is built on relationships and not on physical entities,” Saranya says.