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Interview conducted with Imali Sirisena as part of the Nash County Cultural Center’s Oral History Project. Sirisena (born March 3, 1980 in Rocky Mount, NC) describes herself as 100% Sinhalese, and discusses growing up as part of the Asian-American minority in Nash County. She lists the physical differences that set her apart from the majority in Nash County. She also talks about visiting Sri Lanka, being able to blend in physically, but standing out due to her accent and clothing choices. Sirisena says her parents moved from Sri Lanka to England before moving to NC in 1978. She says her father is a doctor in Rocky Mount, her mother works in her father’s office, and she has two older sisters (one born in Sri Lanka, the other in England). She mentions that they were unaware of any other Sri Lankan families living in the area at the time; reflecting on traveling to Virginia when growing up to meet with other Sri Lankan families which they considered to be like relatives. She discusses celebrating Christian and American traditions such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter despite being from a Sri Lankan Buddhist household. Sirisena details her familial origins, saying her father came from a poor, nationalistic, Pro-Sri Lankan family. She mentions that her grandfather was imprisoned for two years after making comments critical of British rule. She describes her mother’s family as being more wealthy, and having adopted British names and customs. She says that while her parents’ wedding was arranged, they still had a choice in the matter; mentions that her parents have no intention of being involved in the love lives of her or her sisters. Sirisena speaks about her mother’s enjoyment of cooking and mentions that they grow some ingredients for Sri Lankan cuisine in their own greenhouse. She says her father enjoys reading and learning. She says that they expect her to get good grades, her parents do not place any added pressure on her to do well. She talks about working on the school newspaper and plans to go to college after high school. She speaks about her father’s high school experience; also reflects on her own, saying she had good teachers. Mentions that while the school buildings looked run down, it was the quality of the education she was receiving that ultimately mattered.





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