Cary, NC – Cary is home to many immigrants from all parts of the world and one Girl Scout and daughter of immigrants has written a book about the experiences of people who come to the United States from other countries, earning herself an award in the process.
Showing Another Perspective
Nidhi Desai is a member of Girl Scout Troop 300 and wrote the novel “Journeys of Hope and Fear” about the experiences of four teenagers who are immigrants in the United States. Desai said she was inspired by her parents and dedicated the book to her grandmother.
“They both started high school in the United States and my Dad went to college when he was 16,” Desai said. “Their experiences meant a lot to me.”
For her novel, Desai earned the Girl Scout’s Gold Award, which only five percent of Girl Scouts earn in their time with the organization.
“Through her project, Nidhi has demonstrated she possesses the proven qualities of a community leader and the Girl Scout Gold Award designation is truly a remarkable achievement,” said Lisa Jones, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. “She recognized a need in her community and took action to create a sustainable response.”
“Journeys” follows four immigrant teenagers as they try to make their way in the United States, such as one character who is Kenyan and Muslim and wants to join the military.
“You don’t hear about Muslims who want to join the military very often and when you do, they are thrown to the side and not treated as important,” Desai said.
Desai said when she wrote her book, she knew she wanted to include a Muslim character because of current events surrounding Muslims both in the United States and around the world.
“It shows the increasing diversity of our country,” Desai said.
Portrayals of Immigrants
With “Journeys,” Desai said she wanted to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions of immigrants. She said there are many such misconceptions but she focused on a few in particular.
“Immigrants are seen as completely different from Americans, they heavily take part in selling and using drugs, they are violent and they are not as intelligent,” Desai said. “I try to debunk as many of those as I can.”
By showing the lives of four immigrants in a familiar setting such as high school, Desai said she hoped that would help readers relate to them.
“Immigrants are no different from anyone else, in their experiences or how they want to live their lives,” Desai said.
In writing her book, Desai said she got help with editing and advice from author Francis O’Roark Dowell and encouragement from her troop leader, Elaine Loyack. Desai will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill, where she wants to study environmental science.
“My long-term goal is to work for NASA on environmental studies and work on climate change,” Desai said.
And copies of “Journeys” are available online for free.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of Nidhi Desai and Ashley Winton.