Title: Oral History Interview with Kanwal Rahman, July 15, 1999. Interview K-0817.
Interviewer: Bhandari, Rajika
Interviewee: Rahman, Kanwal
Abstract: Kanwal Rahman left Bangladesh for the United States in 1991, looking forward to earning a public health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The second thoughts she had as soon as she got on the plane were compounded by her workload; feeling alone and overworked, she wanted at once to return home. She stayed on, however, determined to prove her worth and hopeful that she might use her success to benefit her home country. Eight years later, at the time of this interview, Rahman has found her niche, and some good friends, in the Chapel Hill area. But she has not lost that sense of connection with Bangladesh, and feels acutely the sense of separation from her family there. In this interview, she reflects on her experience and her efforts at adjustment. One of the most difficult adjustments to make was embracing the American ethic of independence, the opposite of the interdependent, even dependent, posture she learned as one of five daughters of a very successful father. In making this adjustment, Rahman uncovered hidden strengths, but concedes, too, that she worries for her future as a single Asian woman in America. This concern dramatizes her enduring connection to Bangladeshi culture and the way in which assimilation challenges the core of at least one immigrant's sense of self.