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The Gyopo Experience ft Jen!

July 10, 2014

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When we were in LA, we spent a couple of days with Jen, who – by the way – is totally lovely. She asked Martina a really interesting question that really had us questioning ourselves. The question was this: do we consider ourselves Korean-Canadians or Canadian-Koreans?

It caught us really off guard. It’s not something we ever thought about. “Neither” is our first response. We have no Korean blood in us. We’re not Korean. Jen went on to say, though, that we’re in many ways more Korean than she is. We’ve been living in Korea for over six years now. We’ve been really immersed here. We have a home, a business. We eat Korean food every day. We speak Korean every day (not high level Korean, though: but more than enough to carry on conversations). We pay Korean taxes. When we were in LA, we were culture shocked by all of the things that are not like how they are in Korea.

But that’s not the point of our conversation. Though we’ve spent most of our adult lives in Korea, we still don’t consider ourselves Korean, yet we’ve adapted to Korean culture in many ways. Those of you angry Tumblrinas, please note: WE ARE NOT CALLING OURSELVES KOREAN. We were fascinated by the question, though, and what it implies.

Namely, the question of identity got us thinking. Back in the day, your language and your geographical location and your nationality and your heritage were very often all the same. A Korean person spoke Korean and lived in Korea and had Korean family. There was little mingling. But the world has changed a lot in the past 100 years. My parents are from Poland, but they have half-German grandparents. Then they moved to Canada. My first language was Polish, but then I dropped it for English. Now I’m living in Korea, and my identity and career are all based on Korean stuff. What do I identify as, then?

We hung out with Dan Matthews while we were in LA as well, who spent some time with us when he was shooting his documentary. He’s a Korean adoptee who spent his entire life outside of Korea. When he came to Korea, he hung out with us a bit, and we showed him around the area and taught him a bit about it. How does he identify?

Again, I’d like to make clear that I’m not here claiming some people are “more Korean” or “less Korean” than others. I’m not necessarily sure what I feel about the question of identity, either, because it’s something we’ve only been discussing recently, a lot more so after Jen asked us that first question. I’m not sure how much longer people are going to be able to identify themselves based on any country in the future, really, the more we travel and bring our history with us to plant in new places.

I remember when we were in Poland for our Polish meet up. It was a very difficult time for me, for reasons that I couldn’t really understand. I’ve always felt like a terrible Polishman. I remember visiting Poland when I was 16, and my uncle scolded me for not knowing Poland’s historical figures, and he stated that every good Polishman knows Poland’s history. I remember my brother not wanting me to speak Polish around him, because my pronunciation is terrible. I don’t know Polish well, I don’t speak it well, yet there I was in Poland, with a bunch of loving, Polish Nasties, all of whom I wanted deeply to identify with, but I felt deeply ashamed to. I had no right to claim any Polishness. I just had a Polish family and a bit of the language. That’s all.

A big part of this is why I’m fascinated with the gyopo experience in Korea (a “gyopo”, by the way, is a Korean who grew up outside of Korea). We’ve spoken with many who have a really difficult time here, some of whom have been scolded publicly for not being Korean enough, for not speaking enough of the language. It’s something I feel when I think about my Polishness. And it’s something that I consider while we’re here in Korea as well. What place do we have in this country? We’ll always be considered outsiders, no matter how long we live here.

I’m not sure what else to say here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, even though I don’t have any clear answers or questions. I just don’t know what cultural identity means anymore. I just know I’ll get a ripping from angry social justice warriors for questioning cultural identity, which won’t help me out much. What’s your position?

I also know that I was really happy to do this video with Jen, who could share her experience as a Korean American and touch on the questions of cultural identity as well. We hope you liked the video as well :D

If you’re looking for something more fun, though, I’d recommend checking out Jen’s video makeover on Martina. Side note: Jen’s got SUCH A NICER CAMERA THAN OURS. Ooooh look at that lighting!

And, lastly, click on this pretty button below for more TL;DRs, and for more collaboration videos. We’ve got another one coming next week with Korean Englishman, who’s, like, very similar to us but very opposite in many ways. Yay!

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The Gyopo Experience ft Jen!

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  1. I think it’s great that Simon And Martina decided to take a break from reviewing kpop video’s to ask a very important question. This is why I love Simon and Martina so much! They think outside the box and offer a safe community where we as “nasty’s” can share experiences and thoughts without getting bashed by “internet justice warriors”.

    The world is changing. And so is the definition of identity. To me identity doesn’t and shouldn’t exist in the strict outlines of “You live in Poland so you are polish”. To me identity should be your reputation.

    “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich, or poor. If you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you.” -Eminem

    I am adopted. I come from a small socialist country of Bulgaria where tall buildings are scarce. Bulgaria is not very modern. It is very traditional and proud. I know little of my country and my culture. Even while living 4 years in Bulgaria I ironically know nothing about it. And that’s because I was completely isolated. In the Bulgarian orphanage I slept for 10 hours a day and woke up only to eat breakfast and dinner. This lasted for 2 years. I didn’t have an education and I never went outside. Bulgaria’s orphanages are very dangerous and poor.

    I am considered Bulgarian because I was a documented citizen there. The word “Identity” shouldn’t mean your race.

    5 years ago
  2. I identify as American. My mom is filipino and my dad is caucasian (with European parents). We lived a military life, so it was all, I guess, very American with some occasional Filipino food. My mom loved America, so while she would do some things that were very Asian/Filipino, she raised us as American as she could. We didn’t see much culture unless we interacted with family. My brother and I never felt the need to visit the Philippines either.

    Now that I live in Los Angeles, I actually have a lot of Korean friends who spent the majority of their life in Korea, until the last 5-10 years. So it is interesting to see them sort of try to figure out whether or not they will go back. One of my friends was thinking about going back, but her parents want her to stay here because the opportunities for her will be a lot better. Another came here, went back for the army and came back because he loves America. (Side note: he told me a lot of his friends would go back for the army, but wouldn’t come back. Not because they didn’t want to, but because it was just easier to stay in Korea.)

    Anyways, the comments here are totally amazing. I have to catch up with them.

    5 years ago
  3. I know that what I want to say is an OT, but I think that nowadays it’s hard to talk about cultural identity… Of Course, we can feel as a Polish man, Canadians, or every other citizen of country we ware born/ware growing up/are living now. But we all live on one Planet so it’s doesn’t really matter… We have a nasty world full of Kimchi, pierogi, and K-pop with pretty boys! ;D

    I can’t identify with people who ware born in one country, and ware growing up in other – it’s a difficult experience, there is no doubt about it. But i’m not feeling a fully Pole. Half family from my mother side is from Hungary, Russia, and they were Tatars, and from my father’s side i’m Pole, German Jew. There is no way, i could call myself Pole. My surname doesn’t sound polish, so as a child I have been called many kinds of names.
    But it’s not bad :) Thanks to that mixed genealogy I can explore other cultures that are in my blood. :D

    And guys! It’s amazing, that you two have such a courage :D I mean… You were able to live in different country. Asian culture is one of the most complicated, so it’s difficult to survive there for a SIX YEARS! Bear Grylls approves ;D

    And Simon, I’ve to tell you something. You don’t have to worry about your knowledge of history of poland and mother language. Everytime I go out and i hear people speaking… ugh, it’s terrible! They are living here but they can’t speak properly, haha :D
    You have no idea how big is my smile when you drops some polish words in your videos! :D Just don’t worry. Smile. And be who you are. :D

    5 years ago
  4. I grew up in a Korean household in a white-Jewish neighborhood (in suburban LA), though outside of school I was mostly immersed solely in Korean culture and language. My entire family speaks mostly Korean at home, but they can understand English too. My mother came from Korea when she was in elementary school and graduated from UCLA and USC, but she still speaks mostly Korean (and her English has a slight accent because she speaks mostly Korean outside of work lol). My dad came from Korea when he was in college, so he has a very heavy accent when speaking English but he can communicate adequately and he definitely understands a lot. So I’m not really a second generation, but not a 1.5 generation Korean-American either. My family watches Korean dramas at home, I listen to mostly Korean music, and a lot of my values are Korean. But when I’m outside of my little Korean bubble I shift gears.

    As a lot of other people have stated,at first I was too “Korean” for white-washed Americans or Asians, and at times I’m too “American” for other Koreans. So what I do now is I’m completely American when I’m with my American friends, and I’m completely Korean when I’m with Korean people (like family, family friends, strangers), and I’m Korean-American when I’m with other Korean-Americans. I can sort of change my cultural awareness and mannerisms depending on which group of people I hang out with, and they’re all a part of who I am. I want to say I lean more towards Korean because I grew up in a Korean household, but it’s very ambiguous. I haven’t been to Korea, but when I go to the LA Koreatown and interact with Koreans who might as well be living in Korea, I can blend in as a fellow Korean very well.

    It’s strange because as a Korean-American I have some very contradicting values. Like I impose on myself a rule to “only marry a Korean girl” because that’s something I grew up with (and I don’t mind following because I feel it helps preserve my cultural heritage), even if it’s an arranged marriage sort of deal (선), but with my kids I don’t plan on being so strict and would be fine with whomever they choose as their partner. I’m pursuing the career path laid out for me as determined by my parents, and have no intention of doing that to my kids. It’s because I identify so strongly with my Korean background but have that tinge of western influence that resulted in this, I suppose.

    One thing I noticed though are that Korean-Americans definitely look or appear different from native Koreans. Something about the make-up, clothes, style, whatever, is a little off. I might even go so far as to say facial shape and bone structure is different for Korean-Americans, but I don’t know. I had a similar conversation when I went to the LA Nasty meet-up with a Korean immigrant, how we “just know” when someone is “Korean” or when someone is Korean-American. I definitely felt Korean-American to her, and to myself.

    5 years ago
  5. Nia

    I don’t have personal experience on that, I’m 100% Spanish, but my mother sort of does in small scale. She was born in Mallorca, in the balearic islands, to a father form there and a mother form Ibiza, and she moved to Ibiza when she was 13. Even though the islands are really close, there is a noticeable difference in accent and culture and at the beginning she had a hard time addapting because back there was some resentment against the people from Mallorca. If you ask her now, she feels sge is totally form Ibiza.

    A school friend of hers has a similar background, but she is always back and forth between the two islands. The funny part is that the people form Mallorca tells her she speaks is in ibicenco (the dialect of catalan used in Ibiza) and in Ibiza they tell her she speaks majorcan (the dialect of catalan used in Mallorca), so one could say she is from both and neither island at the same time.

    5 years ago
  6. RE: Wearing Shoes in the house in America.

    I never wear my shoes in the house. I might leave them on if I’m running in to grab something I forgot or go to the bathroom, or had them upstairs and got dressed and put them on & am wearing them out the door, but just normal day to day, as soon as I walk through the door I kick them off.

    Actually, I think the majority of my friends are like that too. We don’t wear shoes in the house. If you do keep them on, no big deal but for the most part you take them off. Isn’t it uncomfortable to have them on when you’re home relaxing?

    5 years ago
  7. Interesting video~ I’m mixed Mexican and White American but I’ve never had identity struggles or problems. I see myself as a US citizen, because that’s exactly what I am. The US is a melting pot of cultures, and so I fit right in. It also doesn’t help that I live in Texas, which is basically half Hispanic anyways. lol
    So about the shoes, I’m visiting my boyfriend in Korea, and the first day I met his mom she hugged me and pulled me inside the house, but then there was an audible gasp because I left my shoes on. and I had just taken one step inside! haha now I know better.

    5 years ago
  8. I was born and lived in Vietnam till i was 12 before moving to US in ’04 so i’d say i speak almost perfect Vietnamese. The first time i went back to visit was ’06, only 2 years, and i kid you not, everywhere i go people asked if i was Viet kieu, which is a term for Vietnamese from oversea. The second time i went back was in ’11 and nobody even speak to me in Vietnamese anymore. I went to the market, they tried to sell me stuff in English. I went to the mall, the cashiers ringed me up in English. There was one incident where i went to a small mom and pop restaurant and my bill came out to a lot more than what it is on the menu. So i asked them in Vietnamese and apparently they thought i was a foreigner, Korean or Japanese they said. So i just said no, i’m 100% Vietnamese, pretty much trying to convince i’m a local. The owner laughed really hard and said who was i even kidding, i’m for sure a Viet kieu. also that even if they jacked up the price it wouldn’t matter to me anyways since i’m from oversea, what’s a couple more dollars, stop being stingy. So pretty much everywhere i went, i was treated as either a foreigner (i guess i must look Korean or Japanese to them) if not then a Viet kieu. I finally ask my best friend who still live in Vietnam if she doesn’t know me, how would she spot me out from the local. She said even though the girls in Vietnam are trendy and up to date with the fashion, there’re still minor things which screams non-local in the way i dress and how i do my make up/hair. I guess the opposite is also true, after 10 years of living in LA I can now easily spot out Vietnamese or even just Asian in general that just move to LA or visiting. Not just in their fashion or make up/hair but also their manners and the way they carry themselves.

    Carrying both culture is quite difficult for me especially since i was raised in Vietnam. My cousins whom were born in the US get cut a lot more slack than i do. Even with simple task such as greeting. My cousins can just wave hello to the older relatives but for me i have to go and politely greet individual relatives in Vietnamese. If I even greet in English, i’d get scold. Even with marriage, when my US-born cousins date non-Vietnamese, they don’t get as much grievance. However when my Vietnam-born cousins and I bring around non-Vietnamese, it was much less welcomed. Around my family i’m too too Americanized and around my friend i’m too Asian. It’s really tough to juggle both sides and make everyone happy.

    5 years ago
  9. I live in Québec where the identity is a major problem just inside the population. Most of it is from immigration and even the “true” Québecois have immigrated from Europe. I for myself have been since my childhood aware of the problem of not being from your country of living’s origin whether it’s because you parent are from different origins or that you were not born in the country itself. There will always be people who will claim that you are not a true “insert name of the country here”. The thing is you abide by the social rules, you know the culture and you love it.They don’t have the right to tell you that. Furthermore in the society we live in this concept of taking your identity on your personal background seems clearly outdated. Your identity is shaped by it but it’s not reduced to it. Having more than one cultural baggage only makes you more of an interesting person sooo it shouldn’t even be a problem that you are not completly considered as belonging to a certain country in particular since the physical barrier that used to define your culture are falling down thanks to media and internet.
    I was born in French but raised in Québec. In québec, I am not considered québécois or even Canadian but in france, I am consider as a canadian. It used to bother me alot when I was 14 and I’ve come to the conclusion that it didn’t matter. My cultural baggage is as much european than american.

    5 years ago
  10. I feel this so much.

    I’m born and raised Australian – I’ve lived in Sydney my whole life, I went through the schooling system and the Marbo v Queensland case is etched in my mind, yet I’m constantly asked “So where are you from?” and “What are you?”.
    My default answer is Chinese, but then I get “oh that cool, where abouts in China?” sometimes I like to keep the conversation short and say Hong Kong since I speak Cantonese, but I have absolutely no blood ties with HK.
    My parents are from different countries within Asia, yet if you ask them these questions, they’ll also insist they’re Chinese. How am I supposed to answer these questions when my direct links to Asia are so muddled?

    5 years ago
  11. I think these days it’s really easy to loose the cultural identity since the world is not so big anymore…
    I am Polish and I do, indeed, live in Poland BUT I moved to England for a while. I was living in a place with a huge Polish community. Those people go to Polish church every Sunday, they speak Polish in their homes, they work with other Polishmen and do stuff every other Polish person does. I think they won’t loose their identity so soon. On the other hand, when someone is entirely surrounded by people of a different nationality and they don’t really speak in their mother tongue often, it’s very hard. My sister was living in England for two years, now in Beijing for a year… She’s been hanging out with people from so many different places and origins. Do you think she can speak Polish perfectly? She can’t. While making a sentence in Polish, when there’s a “hard word”, first the English equivalent pops up, then Chinese and then Polish, at the very end. It’s not so common yet, but still – it happens. It all depends on our surroundings, the community we live in, the people we meet and associate with…
    I want to move out from Poland soon and settle down someplace else in the world, so does my sister (since she does have her Japanese boyfriend, fufufu…). If I have kids one day (omg), I want them to know Polish culture a little, I want them to talk to my parents in Polish a bit, say “dzień dobry”… Will I expect them to fully embrace “what it really means to be Polish”? No – but I want them to have a piece of Poland in their hearts.
    To me, if you feel even a little bit Polish, if you have a tiny bit of sentiment to this country (or to any other country in that matter) – that is wonderful. It is so much better than denying your own roots.

    5 years ago
  12. I am Korean born but since I emancipated from my family, I have pretty much been white washed just being surrounded by Caucasians (lived in Tennessee for a bit)mostly. As I grew older, I started to realize it is hard to lose who you are but easy to lose the way you are. My significant other takes origins serious because he is part native american and because we have been long term partners, he wanted to appreciate my birth place and culture but I had become just an american. I wanted to be part of the Korean culture but I found that to be challenging because I forgot my ways of being Korean. I started working with Koreans out in the West Coast area and boy, was I different from them. These were people that had moved here a year or two ago and they pointed out everything they noticed about me that was not like them including the fact that I was with someone of different nationality. Mind you, they couldn’t hire anyone but Koreans because the owner could not communicate other wise. All in all, I learned that I am not just part of one culture but others as well under the circumstances. There is nothing wrong with being a Gyopo IMO and I will pursue further knowledge of the culture from where I was born and hopefully get a chance to experience it full on when my soon to be hub and I visit Korea for honeymoon.

    5 years ago
  13. My family immigrated from Taiwan to Vancouver, Canada, when I was four-years-old. I grew up speaking Mandarin at home and English at school, and I still do that to this day. However, it’s actually very difficult for me to stick to speaking in one language for a whole conversation – I tend to speak in Chinglish (a mixture of Chinese and English). As such, all of my friends must at least understand, if not speak, both languages. I guess this really limits my social circle, but since my parents did not really assimilate into Canadian (Caucasian) culture, it’s more difficult to be friends with people who have different cultural values. That’s not to say that I am completely unaffected by my social environment. This is more evident when I visit my relatives in Taiwan.

    Although I have been living in Canada now for 16 years, Taiwanese natives don’t automatically peg my as a foreigner. I’m fluent in the language to some extent: I can carry on conversations, read newspapers, etc. with no accent, but please don’t ask me to hold any professional debates! My vocabulary just doesn’t cover jargon in specific fields haha. I don’t run into any problems like people switching to English when they see me (although that may be just the lack of English skills in the city I’m from), or vendors jacking up their prices because I’m a tourist. That’s the good part. The more negative aspects are with my extended family who have many different standards from my family. In North America, I would be considered normal weight for my height (according to my BMI. I’m not fit, but I’m not overweight either), but I would be obese to my relatives. They also love to compare grades or jobs between people of the same generation. I just don’t find these two habits very common in Canada. Sometimes, I feel left out from my cousins as well because a) I didn’t really spend a lot of time with them growing up (my family visited Taiwan about every 5 years) and b) I somehow get the feeling they resent me for growing up outside of Taiwan and (mistakenly) think that I think I’m better than them. On the flip side, since I grew up outside of Taiwan and never received any Taiwanese education, my relatives don’t give me any slack for not knowing much of the history. It’s not a topic that comes up often between my relatives themselves anyways.

    TL;DR: All in all, I would say I’m quite “fob” (fresh off the boat) as a Taiwanese-Canadian, being maybe 80% Taiwanese and 20% Canadian (just for the poutine – you’ll understand when you try it! LOL). I don’t get treated differently when I go back to Taiwan, but I don’t feel like I fit in 100% there either. I think Taiwan is more slack compared to Korea when it comes to gyopos. Bottom line: I wouldn’t trade my experience for being 100% anything. I think understanding and experiencing different cultures really expand one’s conceptual knowledge of the world. :)

    PS: shoes OFF for sure!! Even when I have to grab something from my room which is literally two steps away from the door!

    5 years ago
  14. Hi EYK + Jen,
    Long time viewer/subscriber, first time poster.
    Brief description before we start: I am a second generation, born in America, full Korean male that is somewhat fluent in Korean. My friend is a second generation, born in America, full Chinese male, learned Korean, but is still a noob when it comes to the language, ANYWAYS.

    I can definitely relate to the portion where you guys (girls) talk about “speaking too much English”.
    I was in Korea a couple years ago for a break after going to missions in the Philippines. During my stay in Korea, I rode the subway with one of my friends from America to go back to the location we were staying at. (Don’t exactly remember where). But my friend and I were just laughing and speaking English at a normal volume like we do in America, and out of no where a Korean guy in his late twenties just yells at us, “BE QUIET!” I talked back to him saying, “OR WHAT.” Yes, I understand that it is disrespectful to talk back to my elders (or those older than me, especially in Korea) but I didn’t think we were doing anything wrong to deserve such rude behavior.

    Thinking back, I have two hypothesis (hypothesi?) in which why that Korean guy was so angry at us:
    1) He was angry/jealous at the fact that my friend and I were speaking English so fluently and so loudly as if we were bragging, which we were not doing or intending to do.
    -OR-
    2) The subway is a place where everyone is supposed to be quiet, in which then, he got angry because we were being too loud.
    In any case, I thought it was rude of him to yell at us when my friend and I were just minding our own business, and doing no harm to anyone else.
    Thanks for reading.

    5 years ago
    • Ok, first off: thank you for commenting on our site! Secondly – what did the guy say after you said “OR WHAT?!” I’m dying to know :D

      5 years ago
      • He didn’t really say anything afterwards because, if I remember correctly, he seemed shocked that someone younger than him had talked back to him. All he could do was glare at me and my friend. Our stop was before his and he was near the doors so we had no choice but to pass him. While passing him, I made eye contact and glared back at him and he simply didn’t do or say anything. My friend on the other hand, who was behind me, apologized quickly before he got off. After that, never saw him again. :)
        Again, thank you for reading. :)

        5 years ago
  15. I’m Chinese Australian and I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood. I have some friends that grew up in areas with mainly Asians and they were telling me how much I spoke differently to them, even though I lived in the same country with them, apparently I was ‘white washed’ There was a time when I went to China when I was 11 and while I was eating out one of my relatives kept on making remarks about how all I eat in Australia was KFC and Mcdonalds and he kept asking me if I could use chopsticks, all in a very obnoxious way and even though I was nine at the time i felt like punching him in the face. Then one time last year I was talking to my cousin and half way through my sentence she said “Wow you really do speak like a foreigner”

    5 years ago
  16. This was a very interesting TLDR. I personally am half Caucasian and half Mexican. I never knew the Mexican side of my family. I don’t identify with either one. I’m just an American. Actually, I don’t really identify as an American either. I’m just a human who lives in America. I have NO “racial” identity at all and tend to not notice it in others.
    I also don’t look like either one. I’ve had people ask me if I were Native American, Hawaiian and even if I were Korean.
    I SO don’t notice it in fact, that I overhead someone say something about Beyonce being black and it stopped me in my tracks and I had to think for a moment. Then in my head I was like, “oh yeah, I guess she is black”. I just didn’t notice.
    Its one thing to be proud of the history of your ancestors, but I think holding onto a racial identity in this day and age can only perpetrate discord. Its just one more thing that people can potentially get offended over. Another way to exclude people. Its like Sneeches on Beaches.

    “When the star bellied Sneeches had frankfurter roasts,
    or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
    they never invited the plain bellied Sneeches.
    They left them out cold in the dark on the beaches”.

    Or something like that. XD Its been a long time since I’ve read it.

    BTW – I laughed when you said Jen maid you up to look like Bom because when I saw a picture of you before I thought to myself, “Martina looks like Park Bom with that make-up.” :D

    5 years ago
    • I agree; I don’t think that you really need to have a racial or national identity. To me, it seems to be a way to separate people into categories and to enable fights and arguments over which box a person NEEDS to be in. Can we not just be in the “person” box? What makes racial labels so important? *Sigh*

      5 years ago
  17. I’m Japanese but moved to the States when I was 5. Although I grew up with the culture such as eating the food, watching Japanese tv shows, and the music from the shows that I watched, I realized that I didn’t know much about the culture. I remember when I was 10, I went to Japan for the first time in 3 years and thought I knew everything from the things that I grew up with. I was completely wrong. I knew nothing. I didn’t know anything about the fashion, music, and just so many other stuff. This made me feel upset and I ended up hating Japanese culture.

    Also when I was in the 2nd grade, I hated it when my parents spoke Japanese in public because I thought it was so embarrassing and nobody else spoke the language. Plus I was made fun of by some guys because of my lunch which led me to not want to bring Japanese food to school. I also grew up in areas where there aren’t that many asians so I ended up being more comfortable being around white people and feel like left out whenever I am with other Asians.

    Whenever I would talk to someone that is Japanese, it would be someone that is much older than I am such as my mom’s friends. Because of this, I have barely never talked to anyone around my age who is Japanese aside from my cousin so I don’t know how to talk to them. I have asked my mom but she didn’t really answer my question. Although I never had any pressures from my relatives to know the language and culture, they just expect me to know it even though I don’t. There are times when I don’t know what to do and don’t really do anything about it. Also they thought I knew no English despite living in the States for a majority of my life.

    I feel like I did not explain my story very well and it is kind of lame compared to the other ones. But I do feel happy about myself now and about who I am/what I am. I am very proud of my culture and it is now part of my daily life. My Japanese has improved dramatically because of it and the shows that I watch and the music that I listen to makes me feel more motivated.

    5 years ago
  18. I’m a New Zealander living in Australia, and while there are no major cultural differences, I’m well and truly sick of being asked to say things like “six, Pepsi” etc. just because my accent is slightly different.
    Interestingly however, many people who are unaware of where I’m from think I sound British.

    I think of myself as a New Zealand-Australian. I don’t see myself staying in either country my whole life (wanna move to Korea (: ) so I suppose that will change.

    5 years ago
  19. What an interesting discussion! My personal take on it is: the more we mix, the more culture becomes about geography than genetics. A lot of cultural distinctions came about because of local history, weather, plants, and food, so these things change the slowest and affect everyone in their vicinity, regardless of where they came from, so this is where I think things are going. More than “cultural purity”, I think that preserving important history and traditions is important. I once remarked to a prominent Native Canadian (I have some of that blood myself) that, while I totally respected his drive for Native rights, things might go faster for him is they just claimed back the Canadian title and enlisted everyone who considered themselves Canadian to the “Native” side to fight for everyone’s rights, whatever they may be. I’d rather be united than divided. I was born in Canada but I’m essentially a mutt. My forefathers go back hundreds, to 13 generations in some cases and 2 in others and there’s tons of racial blend in there though I look pretty whitebread. My Grandfather once remarked that I should only date “my own kind” and I replied that I refused to date my sisters who were the only ones “of my own kind” that I knew of and that I refused to limit myself either. He didn’t take it well, but he got over it ;). My parents were different from each other in many ways so in order to avoid conflict, I grew up with no cultural traditions at all, no religion, and little in the way of family traditions. I felt a little bit adrift as a kid – like I didn’t belong anywhere. I missed having something greater than sharing a house to connect me to others. So, I decided that I would make my friends into my family and the only criteria was that they had to be friendly – heh. It’s worked out great so far. Where one group will shun you, another 3 will welcome you, so don’t be discouraged and just keep being yourself.

    History is important but we should all understand (and remember) world history and how we got here, rather than just one country’s small part of the story, so what else is left? Personally, I think that Simon and Martina have essentially created their own great Nasty Nation, wherever they go – making their own history and traditions – so I don’t think that whether they are Korean or Canadian should really be much of a concern any more. Heck Google is making its own floating island country yet operating worldwide, why should the rest of us be tied to a bunch of lines on a map?

    Cyber_3 – the camera was very nice, as was the shot but the editing was a little choppy and there could have been more action. Too interesting to really care much though ;)

    5 years ago
    • Yeah, it’s not our camera, though, but we’re thinking about getting one like it, or one that just handles colour a bit better than ours :D

      5 years ago
  20. I was born in Canada to an English-speaking father and a Francophone mother. I was raised 100% bilingual and attended Francophone school my entire life. What is extremely frustrating to me is that French-Canadians consider me Anglophone because of my last name, while English-speaking Canadians consider me Francophone. I’ve never been able to fit into either group.

    What’s especially frustrating is when I travel to Quebec (I live in Manitoba). Quebecers try to speak to me in English when they hear my non-Quebecois accent because they think I sound like an Anglophone. They often “congratulate” me on my French skills in extremely patronizing ways and giggle when I use French-Canadian expressions that they think only Quebecers use.

    My experience is certainly different from what many others in the comments experienced moving from one country to another, but I can understand the feeling of not fitting in to one culture or another. It’s so frustrating having to explain my cultural identity all the time, no matter what language the other person speaks.

    5 years ago
    • Heh! I was born the opposite in Northern Ontario to a French-Canadian Dad (who barely spoke french) and mostly Scottish Mom. The french I learned in French Immersion was much closer to Parisien french than Quebec french. When I worked for a year in Montreal and even there I got the condescension at first too. I think that some Quebecers don’t care about the quality of your french, so much as the fact that they are superior in all things. As great as some things are in Quebec, there was a lot of anti-English propaganda back in the 1970s-1980s and I’m not sure it’s quite worn off yet. Gotta give it at least a month to wash away the accent and wear down the hackles, keep trying ;). A French roomate can help too. I also think that Manitoba is a bit of a mystery to everyone else in Canada because, despite being in the center, people tend to pass through more than visit.

      Funniest slang I heard in Quebec: instead of saying “Christ!” (as a swear word), a woman I knew would say “Chrysler!” as a sort of “tabernac vs. tabarouette” or “shit vs. shoot”, could never look on those cars favourably afterwards – LOL!

      5 years ago
  21. I’m Mexican-American and in my family there has always been a pressure to do well in school and go to college to get a good job:even if my family didn’t know exactly how to guide me because they didn’t have the opportunities to go to college. In terms of speaking Spanish, it was an unspoken rule that I had to speak it at home or at family events. My parents have always found it shameful when the children of Mexican decent aren’t encouraged to speak their native language because they see it as them loosing or not caring about their heritage. I know that whenever we go to Mexico people automatically think that we are rich just because we come from “El Norte” (The North). People always assume that the streets are paved with money and that we don’t have to work hard in order to live well. I find it ironic that most of the time those people don’t realize they can be living better off than we are. I know that whenever we go to Mexico and my family introduces us to their friends and acquaintances that don’t have family in the US they assume that I don’t know anything about my heritage or my language. That always frustrates me because they are judging us without talking to us first. I can remember one time that I started talking in Spanish someone even told me “Oh, you speak Spanish?!” For the same misunderstandings about language is that it gets me mad that my sister that is born in Mexico but was raised in the US speaks in English when she could say the same exact thing in Spanish. So yeah, that’s my story. Oh and about sticking out like a sore thumb just because of how you speak the language or how you dress, it is completely true for me as well.

    5 years ago
  22. I live in the USA (the Blue area :)) I detest wearing shoes in the house or when my family does. You only where shoes in the house when you are going somewhere SOON! Because shoes are loud and dirty. My family members will complain about each others loud dirty shoes too. (especially when its 5AM). If we have guests (that don’t come over all the time) we probably will where shoes in the house though. My grandmother always wheres shoes she probably the only one who can get away with it. It seems like most people do where shoes in their houses but that might just be because I’m a guest (or there floor is dirty). Since I wear high heels so often I tend to get away with taking them off though. Also recently I had to walk bare-foot through wal-mart cause my heel broke off.
    I’m pretty much very Caucasian American I guess. Although I do have an UN-pronounceable last name. So usually I tell people I am part Austrian (but have never been there and don’t speak a word of German). People who actually can pronounce my name tend to think I’m German. I remember once in elementary school a Teacher asking if I knew how to pronounce the German words in a book, at the time I don’t think I even realized I had an “odd” last name. So I just shyly said no.

    5 years ago
  23. I love Jen, I swear I am so much prettier now since I started watching her videos…I also buy a lot more makeup.

    I have nothing to add to the identity conversation, but, as a Canadian, we take our shoes off in our houses and I think it is very weird that other cultures don’t.

    5 years ago
  24. Both of my parents are from Croatia but I was born and raised in the US. I’ve visited my family there almost every summer since I’ve been one and I speak conversational Croatian. However, whenever I’m there I know I stand out and everyone makes it a point to tell me that I’m not technically Croatian. I’m know as “the American” amongst the locals. The funny part is, like you guys said, if I act too much like an American and speak too much English, I almost get scolded by whoever is around for not embracing my Croatian heritage. So essentially, when I try to blend in they point out I’m different and when I act different, I’m told to blend in. The fine line is so difficult to understand haha What also sucks is that here in the states, I’m also called a foreigner. Weird, right? I was born and raised here but apparently because I’m bilingual, have spent a lot of time in Croatia as a child, and because I’m not the “average American” (as in Italian, German, Irish, etc..that’s what I was told to be the average American by someone when I asked what an “average American” is -_- ), I’m a “foreigner”. It’s almost as if wherever I go, I am denied my nationality/heritage and can’t blend in. So stupid and it sucks cause I know so many other people who are labeled as foreigners in their own country.

    5 years ago
  25. So I’m just answering the shoe question. I live in America and when it comes to shoes on or off, usually people take them off unless the host says something. That’s it, bye bye!

    5 years ago
  26. I’m biracial Vietnamese-Lebanese and was born in Canada to first generation immigrants. Spoke French, Viet and English (in that order) until I lost the Vietnamese (my father had stopped me since he felt my mother would say things without him understanding – I’m still sad about that). They never really taught me anything about their cultures as they would offend each other in doing so. We moved southward every other year as my father wanted to go to the US and my mum wanted to stay near her family in Montreal. I never kept any childhood friends and ended up in foster care at age 12. During this time I lived with 6 different Caucasian families until I left the system at 17. A stroke of bad luck had me homeless for a couple months until I finally found an apartment I could afford. My neighbour was Haitian Creole and we had drinks and breakfast together with 5 Chinese migrant workers almost every day for the time I lived there. I graduated high school that year and left to work in Northern BC before going to Ukraine to teach French.

    Later I finally returned to Montreal to go to university (cheap tuition yay!) and that brings us to the present day, where I cannot really identify as anything. Though I seem more Viet than Lebanese or Caucasian, I don’t feel that I can own any of that heritage, and when I say ‘Canadian’ I keep getting that look and the words “no but really, where are you from?”.

    5 years ago
    • That said, thanks for this video and blog post – it hit sorta close to home, ha. And no, no shoes inside, ever.

      5 years ago
  27. I think we should forget about being “too much” or “not enough” of certain nationality. As someone pointed once, I prefer considering my self a – Citizen of the World -. It is so big and wonderful so why impose to yourself even more boundaries. Just enjoy the differences!

    5 years ago
  28. I can soooo relate to this! Both of my parents are chinese, but I was born in Costa Rica and I still live here. Every 3 years or so I go to China with my parents to visit my relatives, and it becomes so evident that I’m very different from my family even though I’m “100% chinese”. I don’t really feel a pressure to be more chinese, but that might be because my knowledge in chinese history and etiquette makes up for my broken cantonese. Personally I identify as a costa rican because I have no intention of moving to China, and because I do feel more like a costa rican: I identify Costa Rica as my home. That being said, a lot of my mannerisms are chinese, so I don’t think people would say I’m a costa rican. Also, identifying as al costa rican doesn’t mean I don’t love the chinese part of myself, it actually makes me want to have it all? Like, being the perfect combination of a chinese-costa rican, I don’t think that loving one means severing all ties with the other one. I think that identity is completely individual, so “identifying as *insert*” only serves the purpose of guiding people to understand someone better… I don’t know if that makes sense.
    Sometimes the differences make it really hard because sometimes you HAVE to fit in, for example the problem with clothes. I believe Martina and Simon have talked about how hard it is to find clothes their size because they are so huge compared to koreans. I do suffer from that too, here in CR clothes are made for taller people so clothes don’t fit me like they should (I’m 1.53m), and if I attempt to buy clothes in China they don’t have my size (sucks to have nice curves). To finish, I would like to think that people will eventually realise that globalisation is not something external to people, that lines keeping outsiders apart make no sense when you want to share your culture.

    5 years ago
  29. What I identify as really depends, and I find myself qualifying no matter what I do say. I’m Chinese-American to most non-Asians (it’s just easier to identify geographically); I’m also Chinese-American to Mainland Chinese. However to Canto/Taiwanese people I’m Canto/Taiwanese-American-by-virtue-of-one-parent-this-one-parent-that-but-sorry-I-can’t-speak-our-mother-tongue-only-Mandarin. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in an area where there was a large Asian presence, and I’ve rarely been singled out for being “not-white” or “not-Asian”. In terms of the Motherland, I’ve only been to Taiwan for a month. My aunt who lives there was confident that no one would rip me off right away for being a foreigner and no one did (Yay…?) My grandma on the other hand told me that I shouldn’t be allowed to speak outside of the house.

    Oddly enough, when I did a study abroad program at Ewha for a semester, I was often mistaken for a Korean unless I spoke in English from the get-go. I’ve never felt I looked remotely Korean but there you have it. This led to some interesting incidents… Some Chinese tourists asked me about something in a shop window and they were very surprised when I answered back in clear and fluent Chinese (I wasn’t dressed up, just normal jeans and t-shirt). One of them praised me for it and remarked to her friend that it was fortunate they found a Korean who spoke Chinese. On the other hand, taxi-ahjusshis and restaurant servers would work themselves up into a tizzy when my vocabulary, pronunciation or inflection was off. They scolded me about how I was ignoring my heritage and being a bad Korean (ironically translated by my way-gook-in or gyopo chinjus), and then rapidly deflate when I claimed Chinese heritage. H-awkward~!

    5 years ago
  30. Such an interesting blogpost and such interesting comments. I’m an ABC, always identified as one. My parents compare us to bananas…yellow on the outside, white in the inside. Anyway, i’m going to china in a few days for vacation and I think there is such a difference between American born chinese and chinese who live in china. I think it’s the way they dress and the way they look too…not sure what it is, but to me, there is a clear difference between the two. My dad told me that i’d could be passed of as a China-Chinese person if i just kept my mouth shut ahhaha But i disagree because there is something very different that I just can’t write out in words.

    For me, luckily I grew up in a very diverse town with a lot of Asians so identity isn’t something I struggle with because we’re all basically in the same boat.

    5 years ago
  31. My whole family and relatives are 100% Chinese. I was born in Hong Kong but my family immigrated to Canada when I was one. My parents didnt want me to forget my culture so they forced upon my siblings and I to speak Chinese when at home (which is why my first language is actually Chinese, English, AND French at the same time… what a childhood that was Lol)

    I think the whole Cultural Identity is more about cultural “Pride” than anything. The country you were born or whose blood run in your veins doesn’t define who you are as a person. It’s the same as being racist to be honest.

    I’ve lived in Canada my whole life so of course I know little about China’s culture. But does that make me less Chinese ? No. It just makes me less knowledgeable about a specific subject. Why do people get mad at someone for not knowing “enough” about their own culture but are happy when foreigners do ? Pride, nothing more.

    I am proud to be Chinese and also proud to be Canadian. I dont choose one over the other. Both are important and both are part of my life and a part of who I am as a person.

    5 years ago
  32. In speaking of shoes, it all depends on the individual house, though it is typically seen as ok to keep your shoes on in the house.

    At my house it is perfectly fine to have your shoes on in the house. I know my parents’ thinking is that for guests, they should keep their shoes on. My house is really old, we have wood floors, my 3-year-old nephew is over all the time, and we have a cat. So dirt, dust, and fur are forever present, no matter how much you clean. Keeping shoes on keeps your feet clean. I’m not saying my house is super dirty, because my parents can kind of be neat freaks. There isn’t any big dirt, it is mostly to keep the dust and fur off of our guests. I, personally, take my shoes off as soon as I get in the house and I know I’m not going out again because I don’t really like wearing shoes (unless we have guests over). In fact, I’m perfectly ok with going outside and walking around barefoot. It is more comfortable for me and I don’t care about my feet getting dirty. Though my dad makes a big deal out of it if we just got home and I’m asked to run out to the car to get something, but I already have my shoes off. He doesn’t like me going barefoot outdoors because he doesn’t want me hurting my feet.

    If I go to a friends house, I always ask if it is ok for me to take my shoes off. But I don’t do that right away and right at the door. It is usually if we’ve been there for a while. It can be seen as rude to just take your shoes off and walk around someone’s house. It is like, making yourself too much at home I guess? Plus, a lot of people are grossed out by feet.

    Some people don’t like you wearing shoes because they don’t want the dirt from outside on their carpets or whatever. If that is the case then they’ll ask you to take your shoes off at the door. I always make sure if I see shoes piled by a door or if I see white carpets, to ask if it is ok for me to keep my shoes on or if they would prefer I take them off.

    5 years ago
  33. I was born in the US but went to live my first 4 years in Mexico. Then we came back to the US and I grew up there. After living in the US for 14 years I sometimes start to wonder exactly where I belong. In my house we talk Spanish and English and we eat both American and Mexican food. I always see my parents who are always have this certain pride in their country(Mexico)but for some strange reason I can never really understand or relate to it and it’s not because I have pride in America. I talk perfect English and Spanish,and I did get the feeling that my parents wanted me to be more “Mexican”. Like Simon I also got in trouble for not knowing Mexico’s History. There are Mexicans were I live and I have seen people my age who seem really Mexican but I was never able to feel like part of their group you could say, but it never really bugged me till I went to Mexico for the first time in 12 years. When I arrived my whole family (Which I had no idea I had) always kept me far away or not a part of them. They didn’t do it on purpose its just they just thought I would know what certain things were like because I lived in the States. Everybody in the small town I went to visit knew right away that I was not from there. However it was not because I didn’t speak the Spanish correctly it was because I didn’t have this certain accent they had.It was funny because they tried to tell me my Spanish was weird bu they couldn’t because my Spanish was technically correct and without their accent that they have. Another thing that made me stand out was not being able to eat spicy food. As you might know Mexico is known for their spicy foods. Which was a complete nightmare for me because if we had to eat out they would almost always order spicy food. I felt really out of place! So that really made me wonder where exactly do I belong? I am not accepted in my parents country and I am not exactly 100 percent American.My question is where exactly do I belong? It’s really confusing. I don’t really have pride in any country but I don’t worry about it too much as long as I am happy where I am at. Plus I know I’m not the only one who is confused because I have many friends that are in the same situation as me. A good thing is you get the best of both worlds.

    5 years ago
  34. I was born in indonesia and raised in taiwan but however unlike most cases, i grew up with my cousins in taiwan while my family and my brother continued to live on in indonesia. And because the reason of studying in taiwan was to pick up chinese and be bilingual , i grew up speaking chinese and never had the chance to learn any of my national language since my family and relatives all speak dialects and chinese.

    i often feel really confused when people mentioned why I’m so not indonesian and why don’t i have my national/cultural “pride” in me. it wasn’t my choice or my fault.. i just wasn’t exposed to it at all. Even when i travel around indonesia i was never recognised as a indonesian even if i say i am, they would just assume I’m lying.. urgh frustrations.

    but the worst part of it is even my brother makes a fuss out of it that i do not have any national pride and how i could not speak the national language. Noone thought me the national language, i had never studied in indonesia before and my family or friends do not even speak to me with it but everyone seems to expect me to “master” it. sometimes it really becomes a pressure because it just seems like my fault that i had forgotten my “roots”

    people just expect too much from others sometimes. its true that it is sad to not have any roots since I’m still an indonesian but if having roots is the reason why I’m stressed about then i’d rather have no roots, culture , heritage at all.. after all we are all just humans of planet earth. we live on the same land , we breathe the same air but why must we see the differences and not the similarities ??

    thank you so much for discussing this topic eyk because for the first time I’m able to actually talk about it and hear that so many people are actually facing such issues! glad I’m not alone :)

    5 years ago
  35. I’m from Connecticut, and I have to say that unless I’m running in to get something or I’m leaving really soon, I always have my shoes off in the house. I prefer walking around barefoot, so that could be part of it, but honestly it just seems really uncomfortable to leave them on all the time, and almost no one in my family does it. My sister’s boyfriend does, though, and she’s always nagging at him to take them off, lol.

    5 years ago
  36. I’ve always wondered about the shoes too! It bothers me so much when I’m watching American shows and they don’t take their shoes off. It’s the norm here in Canada.

    5 years ago
  37. I’m Chinese – American and I can say that even though the US is considered one of the most culturally diverse places in the world, a lot of the Midwest still is pretty isolated and conservative. As a babe I lived in the suburbs and then I moved to a relatively rural city when I was 9. I grew up identifying myself as a Chinese – American but when I started getting into my awkward years it was really difficult to deal with both.
    It wasn’t until I was in 7th grade that I realized that most people in my town really saw me different than everybody else (and when I say everybody else I mean basically caucasians, lol). When kids my age in the US see me, they don’t think “American” they think, “Oh, she must get good grades and be planning to be a doctor.” and it’s the most frustrating feeling in the world. A lot of teenagers still buy into so many of the stereotypes they hear about Asians and it really effects the ways Asian – Americans grow up here. I have a lot of Asian – American friends and we discuss this all the time. When you go back to your “country of origin” you become “the foreigner”, but in the US you’re still viewed as “the Asian”. So what do you identify as? We struggle with this question everyday and it makes us resort to becoming “the Asian”. My brother once told me that, “The reason I’m the clown is because everybody in this town only sees me as the Asian.” It made me really sad because I really love ma bro and it breaks my heart to think his making me laugh is just an act. And sometimes it makes me feel like I have to play up “the Asian” act just to get people to accept me. It sucks. :(
    Just a couple weeks ago I was in China visiting relatives for the first time in like 8 years. The experience was just so refreshing, especially after such a long time. But I felt so guilty during a lot of the trip because despite the fact that I grew up in a pretty culturally Chinese household, my Mandarin was pretty basic. I asked my parents so many times if my accent was alright and every time they’d say it was fine but I still couldn’t shake my insecurity. A lot of my family members never really teased us about being “Americans” and I really appreciated it but I still felt out of place as is expected, haha. Another weird thing was that everyone was calling me pretty, and they usually do when I go to China (not meaning to brag). I guess I fit the beauty standards or something. But in the US guys don’t so much as give me a sideways glance. It really brought up my confidence for the days I was there but as soon as I got back to the US I thought, “What if they were just being polite?” It was nice being pretty for a few weeks I guess. :/ Which is another thing about where I live that I hate. A lot of the guys in my town only date like really, so called “white Asian girls”. Like Asian girls that don’t seem like they still adhere to a lot of Asian culture, like using chopsticks or speaking in the “native tongue”. Not that I’m complaining cause guys my age are dumbasses, lol. But stereotyping and discriminating is not cool guys. :(
    I’d say I think I’ve pretty much accepted who I am by now and I know how to play my “Asianness” up to get a few laughs and be socially acceptable but it is really frustrating how society works. I think these days the world is just getting more connected and becoming global by cause of technology and the internet, so these kinds of mixed identity and race things are only becoming more common. I don’t think identity should be defined by race or country of origin. You are as you define yourself to be. And thanks to the internet and wonderful people like Simon and Martina, people who suffer with these kinds identity crises can come to feel more at ease with who they are and let out their frustrations as well. I really appreciate this TL;DR because it gave me a chance to discuss something that really matters to me while at the same time letting me comment for the first time on the Eat Your Kimchi website. Thanks S&M for choosing this much debated topic!

    5 years ago
  38. i suppose my feelings are more similar to simon’s. My mother is half Puerto Rican and half German, and spent a lot of her early childhood in Germany before she moved to Puerto Rico, then to the continental US. My father comes from a long line of Scots, he’s even registered with the family clan. Being adopted and growing up in the midwest usa i never really felt like i belonged to any of those cultures. I studied spanish and german in high school and college but i don’t speak either very well and i know very little about the cultures. My mother’s pretty americanized and my dad’s family immigrated almost 5 generations ago, and we don’t have much contact with our relatives from overseas. I’m about as american as they come but to be honest i kind of hate it. I don’t really feel like i belong to any one group and i feel really detached from my extended family, from my country and my culture, and honestly i find that pretty depressing. i know it’s not good to think of myself as the “plain vanilla white girl” but i’m really not sure how else to define myself because i don’t have any strong ties to my family’s history.

    5 years ago
  39. OMG Simon in Polish… ish? :D So am I! This is too cool. Shame I doscovered you guys long after the meet in Poland. And don’t worry buddy – Polish can be proud, judgemental assholes sometimes, but we love our people lol :D And the history but… well, to be honest I don’t know that much either, so don’t feel bad. Polish history is long and complicated and it only gets interesting in XXth century ;) Anyway, hope yo see you guys in Poland very soon! And Simon – don’t ever be ashamed to speak Polish while here, we don’t really admit that, but we can’t speak proper Polish either, cause it’s so messed up :D

    5 years ago
  40. I grew up in an area where most of my friends are 2nd generation Chinese (their parents are immigrants), except that I’m actually a generation later. My grandparents are the ones who are immigrants, so my parents were both born in America. As such, I grew up with nearly no knowledge of Chinese culture or language, so I was often jokingly called a “banana” by my dad (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).

    Learning Chinese, it was always expected that I speak the language at home, so no matter how hard I worked in class to master the language, I never got the recognition I felt I deserved. I had a Caucasian friend who often scored about the same as me on tests, and we both started with the same level of clueless-ness in Chinese. However, she often would get awards that I didn’t, simply because people assumed that I was just taking the easy way out [by participating in programs in a language I presumably already knew]. In class, teachers would even neglect to help me practice so that they could help the Caucasian students. Unfortunately, I’ve found that as time went on, my motivation to learn Chinese has consequently gone down quite a bit.

    My experience at home has even been quite different from the traditional Chinese-American. Most of my 2nd generation friends are raised with the same ideals their parents had growing up– work and study all the time, and if you’re not the best, you’re not worth it. However, my parents grew up going to U.S. schools, so I generally had more freedom with my studies and more lenient punishments for getting average grades. Thankfully, they are also more open to letting me decide where I want my career path to go, since they have undergone the typical chinese-american experience of being forced to study science.

    5 years ago