Amelia Gill – I now appreciate the gift of being dual heritage (British-Indian)

My name is Amelia and I was born in Leeds and raised by both of my parents in a town called Horsforth. I had a great childhood and remember it fondly. My mother and her side of the family are all white British, whilst my father and his side of the family are all Indian.

My dad’s parents were both born in Punjab in tiny villages called Jingar Kalan and Burj. My grandparents moved to England after World War 2; they were actually asked to move to help build up the work force here as so many lives were lost due to the war. They accepted the offer and moved here, to help build up our economy, without knowing a word of English and without knowing anyone here. It’s pretty impressive.

When I was young, in primary school, I never felt any different to anyone else. I grew up in a predominantly white area, where my dad was the only non-white person in the town. He used to pick me up from primary school and was the only person of colour. I never realised this as a child so it never made me feel different to anyone else.

This changed when I move to high school. Again, it was predominantly white, with around 2-3 people of colour in each year group of 100. I was automatically made to feel different as people would ask me where I was from and where my dad was from.

It always felt quite negative and that it was strange not to be fully white. I felt different from others as people pointed it out to me and asked questions. I always get asked where I’m from or what I’ve got in me, and people usually think I’m Greek or Spanish.

People tend to be quite shocked when I say I’m half Indian and they always tell me I don’t look it. I guess it’s true as I was not blessed with my father’s tan (unlucky for me!). It’s only since I’ve grown older that I now appreciate the gift of being dual heritage.

I grew up learning about different cultures, hearing different languages, and eating different food. I’ve grown up hearing about two different religions; Catholicism and Sikhism. Both schools I attended were Catholic, but I learned about Sikhism and visited the temple with my dad.

The difference between the Church and the Gurdwara is fascinating. From wearing your best clothes to the church and being silent for the majority of the day, to being bare-foot in a Gurdwara serving people food with your hands. It was so interesting to see these different environments and to be exposed to different ways of life.

I’m especially thankful for the food I got to eat – and still do get to eat! I grew up having a traditional Sunday roast one day, and an Indian banquet the next – all home-made of course!

Both my parents cook amazing food, both British and Indian, so I really have been spoilt growing up. The flavours of Indian food are unlike anything else, they’re so unique and I’ve learnt how to make different curries from scratch, which taste gorgeous (if I do say so myself!).

I’m really proud of my dual heritage and love hearing about others that have a similar background to me. It’s so unique to grow up with two different cultures and that’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.

Do you have a mixed heritage story to share? Tell us your story here:

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