“This is not the whole world."
New resident concerned by lack of diversity, bubble of privilege
Whenever he gets the chance, Nagesh Saldi reminds his daughters that everything they see, know, own — two cars, stone archways and delicately trimmed windows — isn’t what everyone sees, knows, owns.
“I tell them, ‘This is not the whole world. What you see is not a representation of what the whole world is about,’” Saldi said.
When Saldi first decided to move to Cupertino a year and a half ago, things were admittedly easier for him: he knew the developers who were building new houses in Bollinger Road’s cul-de-sac, managing to escape the typical panic-ridden race to find housing.
And when he finally settled in — moving in with his two daughters is the most fun he’s had in Cupertino so far — he was satisfied by the small-town atmosphere that pervaded the cul-de-sac: chatty neighbors who invited him to parties on all the major holiday, houses nestled together, a constant sense of safety.
But he can’t help but feel there’s something sanitary about Cupertino. Something almost too clean.
“I lived in San Jose and Southern California before I moved here, and Southern California had a different ethnic mix. More economic diversity,” Saldi said. “There should be more diversity here too, more economic diversity, so it doesn’t become just a rich, affluent neighborhood.”
Though Saldi moved here specifically so that his daughters could attend Kennedy Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School, schools he admits are considered the “best” in part because of the affluence of its surrounding families. Families with stable jobs, high incomes and the ability to spend them on after-school programs and summer camps.
Yet he’s still not entirely satisfied. This prominent affluence was not always his reality, but it is his now his daughters’ realities, and that worries him.
“People should be exposed to different diverse backgrounds,” Saldi said. He believes that exposure to diversity is just as important in a “good school” as academics, but at the same time, elite academics was the prime prize he’d always sought for his daughters.
After all, it’s what all his neighbors have moved here for, the price that they’ve all paid. He admits that he can’t complain.
“Still, academics are just one aspect of the personality. Academics are just one aspect of a developing individual,” Saldi said, nodding. “Acing everything...that doesn’t complete an individual.”