Our First American Baby

Dear Family and Friends,

Last month I wrote a column about my niece in Tanzania's national newspaper, The Citizen. I am sharing the column with you along with a set of pictures. 

Three months ago our family's first American baby was born. My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Baby Anaaya's mother, Sonal, was born in Tanzania just like me. Baby Anaaya's father, Sumanth was born in India. Baby Anaaya is the first child in my father's and grandfather's family that is born in the United States of America. She is a child of the new and emerging generation, a generation that is smart and savvy about living in a world that is fast-paced and constantly changing.
In many ways this baby's arrival in our world has been symbolic for our family. My parents worked hard as immigrants from Tanzania. They always had big dreams for us. Those dreams included many different things. It included attending university in the United States, having successful professions and careers, as well as getting married and starting our own families. Becoming grandparents has brought a new height of joy and pride to my parents. I am equally happy for them!
My brother and I have our own big dreams for our niece. As we were talking the other day about all the different things we could teach her, one of our biggest realization was that our niece is eligible to be president of one of the greatest nations in the world! Even though we are now citizens of the US, we are not eligible to run for the presidential elections because we gained citizenship through naturalization. Of course, our niece may decide to never get involved in government level politics but the mere fact that she does stand an equal chance to do so if she chooses, is pretty phenomenal!
As Tanzanians we grew up in a different world. Her mother and I moved to another country (Kenya) to attend primary school. Little Anaaya will have the luxury of staying with her parents as she begins elementary school. Her mother and I wore uniforms to school while Little Anaaya will wear clothes to follow the latest trends and fashions of her time. Her mother and I played 'house' with kitchen gadgets made of aluminum scraps while Little Anaaya will play 'house' with fancy Fisher Price kitchen gadgets. In a lot of ways Baby Anaaya will grow up in a completely different world than my sister and I did in Tanzania. 
I hope and pray that as an American she will embrace her Tanzanian roots. I hope she will one day explore where her mother and ancestors lived. I hope she will happily embrace her Tanzanian heritage. As an American she will be offered many privileges that average Tanzanians may not have. Yet there are many beautiful and valuable lessons she will only learn from Tanzania and I hope with all my heart, that Little Anaaya will welcome those lessons in her life. I hope that when she is older, she will visit the land of the beautiful Kilimanjaro mountain and find new appreciation for the journey of her parents and grandparents as immigrants to this country.
We are all in love with this child as the parents continue to lose sleep and constantly provide for her. As parents I am sure my sister and brother-in-law have their own dreams and expectations for their child! As a member of this generation, I look forward to what our niece will teach us. Her name means free-willed and free-spirited so I am hopeful she will show us ways to lead.
Until then, we remain in awe of this precious little human being :) 


Rupal R. Shah, MS, MPH
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Baby Anaaya

Baby Anaaya