Posted in Undoubtedly

Who I am and where I am from


Hello everyone! I am Ashanka Kumari, and as of a month ago, I reside in Lincoln, NE. I am an incoming masters student in English, Rhetoric and Composition and also a research assistant. I live near the capitol building and walk past it daily on my way to campus and downtown Lincoln. I’ve enjoyed walking around Lincoln, which is a big change for me because I come from places where driving everywhere is more customary.

Capitol Building

Living here has been my first experience in the Midwest. I was born in Long Island City, NY, and moved to Muscle Shoals, AL, when I was nine years old. My memories of New York are of grandeur, my family’s apartment, and spending part of my days in the Greek restaurant where my dad worked. When my parents first told me we were moving to Alabama, images of pigs, cows, farm life, and overalls immediately clouded my mind. I asked my mother to purchase pairs of overalls because I assumed this was part of fitting into this new place, something I knew I would have to learn to do. I quickly learned that my TV-stereotyped thoughts were (mostly) incorrect. Sure, Alabama was different than New York, but small parts of Alabama made it special.

My family today. Mom, Dad and my brother, Aman.
My family most recently. Mom, Dad and my brother, Aman.

What I remember most about my childhood is traveling. My parents are native of India, so we flew there a few times, though since we moved to Alabama, I have not been back to India; however, I have done lots of traveling. My family also regularly travels to Canada since that is where my nearest relatives live. In middle school, I joined the band and began playing trombone. Through my experiences in band over the last 12 years, I have had the opportunity to travel all over America to states including California, Florida, and Texas and even Washington D.C. among many others. In other words, I have spent a lot of time on school and charter buses, which became like a third home for most of those years.

Bama Spell Out

For my undergrad, I attended The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL, and was a member of the Million Dollar Band, which meant I was fortunate to witness three national championships firsthand in my four years at Alabama. (Roll Tide!) In my short time in Lincoln, I have felt at home because of the similar football culture and color scheme (Alabama’s colors are Crimson and White). Home was often the practice field I spent nearly a dozen hours on each week during the fall.

Butler Field Reality
Butler Field during the season
Butler Field in the Spring
Butler Field in the Spring









I also continued to travel outside of band through study abroad programs. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy during summer 2011 and then received the opportunity to intern at a luxury magazine in Barcelona, Spain during summer 2012. These travel ventures allowed me to see parts of Europe for the first time and experience a wide variety of new things. 

Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy
Las Arenas in Barcelona









For most of my last year at Alabama, I felt that I lived in the Office of Student Media. I served as Chief Copy Editor of The Crimson White newspaper for the year, which meant I spent 30+ hours a week at my desk, reading and editing articles for each edition as well as writing some pieces on the side. In the end, I earned my BA in English with a minor in Italian and my BAC in journalism with a minor in music after a very busy four years at The University of Alabama.

Student Media Building

CW Office









Though, if someone asks me where I am from today, I will tell them “Muscle Shoals, AL,” which is a small city that neighbors Florence, AL, which is more widely known. Muscle Shoals is known for the “Muscle Shoals Sound” and home of Fame Recording Studios. Many famous recording artists got their start in this small town. As a resident of the city, I tend to spend most of my time out in Florence, AL, because that is where all of the popular hangout places happen to be, though compared to Lincoln, Florence and Muscle Shoals are empty.

My favorite park in Florence, AL
Deibert Park — My favorite park in Florence, AL

My idea of home is ever-changing. I feel that I adapt to new locations quickly and find myself constantly moving around, but for the next two years, I will be grounded in Lincoln.

Like many before me, I would like to conclude this introductory piece with my own version of the “I am from” poem:

I am from a small apartment in a big city,
From parents not native of the country.

I am from car rides, bus trips, and airplane adventures,
From taking pictures, visiting family, and creating new memories.

I am from Hinduism and daily prayers,
From celebrating holidays not on most calendars.

I am from discovering the library by accident,
From finding solace in pages and pages of words.

I am from playing and listening to music,
From watching hours and hours of television.

I am from a three-year continuing relationship with my best friend,
From love through trust and honesty.

I am from years of arguments with my brother,
Who I didn’t want at first, but wouldn’t trade for another.

I am from parents so supportive and patient,
From growing in America and different customs.

But now I am from entering academia,
Dealing with long distance and conquering fears,
One day at a time.


14 thoughts on “Who I am and where I am from

  1. You find your solace in words and pages of words–and you have a wonderful way with words also. I enjoyed reading all about you, and I loved your I am from poem. That poem seems to sum lives up in such a heartfelt way. I love the lines about your brothers–how sweet!

  2. Hi Ashanka!
    It’s great to get to meet you through your blog. I am jealous of all the travel you have done-it sounds so exciting! Although, I’m sure some of it (like the Charter Buses) weren’t that glamorous. 🙂 Welcome to Nebraska! The football culture will be similar for you, which is always helpful when trying to fit in and understand us ‘Skers.
    There were some parts of your “Where I’m From” poem that were incredibly insightful for us getting to know you; the lines about Hinduism and holidays not on calendars, discovering the library by accident-it makes me want you to write out the whole story, not just those few lines.

  3. Hi Ashanka, I must say you are braver than I, not sure Alabama is a place I could handle, from what I hear, more humidity than in Lincoln. You also seem like an adventure-er; and not just between states, but countries. I am anxious to hear your views on the subjects we pursue. -Bill

    1. You have heard correct! It is miserably hot there as well, but the heat in Lincoln has definitely still been a battle for me this past week (which was actually hotter in temperature than it was in Alabama from what I noticed).

  4. Such beautiful pictures here, Ashanka. This is such a nicely composed blog post; it was a pleasure to read. I was really struck by the description of how you felt when you first were told that you would be moving to Alabama…how quickly images of a stereotyped south flashed into your mind. It is curious how it seems like that downsides of places seem to often be the first thing that flashes up. When I told people I was moving to Nebraska, people only talked about corn and flatness, when I tell people I am from Seattle, they only talk about rain. Our simplistic conceptions of space are of course limited, but they also seem interesting and important to consider. I wonder how the stereotypes held by outsiders shape the experiences of those from the spaces? How do my stereotypes of Nebraska shape my native Nebraska students?

    Your blog also showcases the fact that you are so busy and do so much! I am still so impressed. We are lucky to have you here at UNL.

    1. I think we find ourselves thinking about negatives first because those are images we more readily know about a place. Think about how the news, more often than not, is negative. We don’t hear about the good going on nearly as often as we hear about the terrible events.
      As a person who is so enamored by and involved in media, I strongly think the media does have an impact on our perceptions. I’ll admit, my first thoughts of Nebraska were “Aunt Becky (Full House) was from there, and I like her! I remember that episode when Stephanie was making the U.S. land map using dough and Becky flattened out Nebraska to show her it was the state that is ‘as flat as a pancake'” or “Penny (Big Bang Theory) is from Omaha and that’s near Lincoln. I wonder if the farm life is as prevalent as she always describes.”
      So far Lincoln has been quite the opposite of those initial perceptions. Perhaps it’s just the area I live in, but I see more city life than farm life for sure!

  5. Ashanka,
    Hello again! It was so wonderful to hear about all the traveling you’ve done. I’m slowly growing inspired to seek out those kinds of experiences and knowing that someone I can talk to has done it is comforting and inspiring.
    I also really liked the presence your experience with band had in your introduction. After reading a couple other people’s mention of 4-H as an activity they continue to relate to I’m starting to feel like I missed out on some big things! 🙂
    I look forward to reading more from you!

  6. Ashanka,
    Welcome to the Midwest! You like a so many others in our class have been to such a variety of places– reading of all of these lovely experiences is beginning to give me the itch to travel. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your take on the places you describe.

    Also, I’m wondering if you felt the same overwhelmingness of Husker-mania that Katie did– or if this was less of a shock to you given that perhaps your involvement with the band at UA offered a similar experience.

    I look forward to hearing more from you soon!

    1. I definitely did not feel the same type of shock Katie did from talking to her! Cornhusker mania seems so much more tame than Alabama’s craze currently. I am going to do my best to be dually loyal though!

  7. Hi Ashanka, it’s nice to meet you. I would love to hear more about your travels. I too love to travel and have been to a few places. Your photo of Ponte Vecchio brought back memories of my own trip to Florence last summer. I was only there a few short days, but would love to go back and spend a longer period of time some day. Barcelona is also one of my favorite cities. Ever since I first visited while still in high school, I thought “If I spoke Spanish… I’d move to Barcelona in a heartbeat.” Mountains, sea, Gaudi, what could be more perfect? Well, I hope you enjoy your time in Lincoln. Though I did not grow up in the city, I’ve always enjoyed it on the occasions I have called it home.

    1. I loved Florence and Barcelona so much! I’m glad you can understand why those cities are so memorable. The thing I liked and didn’t like about Barcelona, however, was that it was sometimes difficult to get natives to speak Spanish to me. I would attempt to say something to them and they would respond in English, which I suppose was helpful, but at the same time, hurt me from developing as a Spanish speaker. I think Barcelona is a city one can survive in with limited knowledge of the Spanish language, but I do understand what you mean about it being a perfect place to live (minus the bland food, haha).

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