NishaDuring journalist, actress and TV personality Nisha Mathur’s visit to a class in RBR’s Academy of International & Cultural Studies, sophomore Aliyyah Muhammad volunteered to demonstrate the traditional Sari dress.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Nisha Mathur is a journalist, actress and co-anchor of The Asian Variety Show, which reaches a world-wide TV audience. Most recently, she added to her credits author of an autobiographic book.  My Mango Tango traces Ms. Mathur’s three-generational family’s quest of the American dream and how she balances a life caught between two very different cultures.

Red Bank Regional High School students in the Academy of International & Cultural Studies (AICS) were fortunate to recently welcome her to their Cultural Explorations class as she shared stories of her Indian culture, her American assimilation, and her impressive communication career.

“My main goal (in writing the book) was to provide comfort to others going through similar situations, and that they are not alone,” said Nisha. ” A lot of adults go through balancing two cultures…my main point is that you don’t have to choose but can take the best from both.”

In illustrating that point, Nisha vividly described her family’s traditional celebration of the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. Her family’s American home was transformed into a little India adorned in elaborate Indian decorations. She dressed in the traditionally sari, sang Indian songs and ate Indian food.

She then told the students, “The next day I would go to school in my American jeans, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and talk about Elvis.”

Some students saw themselves in similar situations where their ethnic roots sometimes compete with modern American culture.

Sophomore Sophia Mazzini comments, “I am reading her book and I love it! I feel like I can relate as an American-Greek, and it inspires me to use my culture as inspiration for the things I will do in the future.”

She shared stories of her exciting career which includes live interviews of some of Bollywood’s most famous actors and actresses. The students were impressed with Nisha’s work in the Bollywood entertainment arena, and in her recent project with prominent Indian-American leaders in the areas of politics and commerce. The students were also treated to clip of a popular Bollywood film.

Sophomore Aliyyah Muhammad volunteered to demonstrate the traditional Sari dress, as Nisha Mathur meticulously wound six yards of fabric around the teenager.

The students were intrigued and responded enthusiastically to her stories.

“What I found very interesting was when she talked about her life as a teenager,” commented sophomore Casey Judge. “She wouldn’t dare ask her parents if she could go to prom because it was not acceptable in her culture to date. But now her kids go to prom and dances with no problem. The cultural and generational differences are really interesting to learn about.”

Rose Powers, the lead teacher for the (AICS), was responsible for bringing Ms. Mathur to RBR.

She observed, “The Cultural Explorations students had an opportunity to not only meet an author whose book examines cultural identity and gender issues in different cultural contexts, but a journalist who spoke about the field of journalism as a possible career path.”