Episode 17: Dr. Amita Roy Shah

What makes you different is what makes you beautiful.

"Try to do one thing every day that gets you out of your comfort zone."

Dr. Amita Roy Shah, Author and Founder of Hybrid Parenting.org, on Raising Culturally Aware Children

The young Amita Roy Shah excitedly took the stage for a Bollywood dance performance in her predominantly homogenous white high school…what happens next helps her define her identity and purpose in life. 

Dr. Amita Roy Shah is an author, educator and thought leader.  Amita made it her life’s mission to empower parents to invest in the cultural wellbeing of children so that they become connected to their identities and increase their curiosity for other cultures of the world.

With the current rise of bullying and intolerance for anyone who looks or acts different, whether it one’s physical appearance or social customs, Amita promotes mutual understanding to address stereotypes and engages in dialog through her children’s books and website: http://hybridparenting.org/.  Parents have a responsibility to raise children with awareness for other cultures, religions, and sexual orientations so that they grow up to become conscientious adults.  As the world becomes more global in our own backyards, our children will celebrate holidays like Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanza with classmates and friends. 

Amita’s books, “It’s Time for Holi!” and “Lights, Camera, Diwali!”, tell the stories of Indian American families celebrating the Hindu holidays, Holi (festival of colors) and Diwali (festival of lights), in the US.  Amita captures the hybrid identities of her characters through her books’ beautiful illustrations and shows the duality of culture for first/second generation children so that bicultural children have books that they can relate to. 

Podcast Details

Find out from the podcast how Amita:

  • Landed in the education field and accomplished her doctorate (Ed.D) from Columbia while raising a family
  • Negotiated her cultural identity and her roles as a daughter, wife and professional
  • Uses a “growth mindset” to combat imposter syndrome
  • Defines “hybrid identity” and the importance of honoring both cultures through her work as an author and educator
  • Responded to her teacher’s incorrect pronunciation of her name in kindergarten
  • Connects success with your position in society- based on race, culture, gender, ethnicity, class- and knowing who you are, where you come from, and how you contribute to society
  • Reacts to criticism in her professional career

"Good stories come in all different colors". - Amita Roy Shah
To learn more about Amita, check out her website www.hybridparenting.org or email amitaroyshah@gmail.com.  You can order her books here.  Here is a glimpse from her recent book launch party for "Lights, Camera, Diwali!".

About Amita

Dr. Amita Roy Shah is an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University.  She also has professional experiences as a teacher, curriculum designer, and educational consultant.  She received her doctorate (Ed.D.) in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2013.  Her research focuses on understanding the experiences of South Asian Americans in the United States and why there is a particular shortage of teachers of color in our nation’s schools.  Amita also published an award-winning children’s book It’s Time for Holi! to help all children gain a better understanding of the Indian culture by learning more about Holi, the festival of colors.  Amita published her second book, Lights, Camera, Diwali! in the summer of 2016.