Hey everyone! I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Annie over @allthebeautifultimes! Today I'm going to be asking Annie a few questions related to how she identifies herself as belonging to a particular ethnicity or country. Many people face an identity crisis and have trouble in associating their identity as belonging to a particular nation/culture/race/. However, people who are either second-generation Americans or born in but brought up in a different country seem to face more of such challenges. It's confusing. On what basis do we need to identify ourselves? Which culture should we follow? Is this right or wrong? People like us often ask these questions to ourselves. Today, through the questions that each of us came up with, we will discuss the challenges each of us faced (and still face) and how we tackled (or are trying to tackle) them. At the end, each of us will finally come up with a conclusion and talk about how both of us really identify ourselves. Click here to view Annie's blog where I answer her questions.
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in a small city in the middle of Texas. My parents both immigrated to the US to pursue their education back in the 90s. I grew up in a household that was very much an amalgam of the American and Chinese cultures — it was certainly a unique childhood, surrounded by the food, the language, the attitudes and even the toys and movies of the respective cultures. From this background came an appreciation for everything except for bigotry, bitter gourds and bigotry. I'm currently a sophomore Chemistry major at the University of Texas at Austin, aiming to obtain a minor in science communications, all the while exploring the beautiful city of Austin.
1. What are some of the significant differences in Chinese and American culture that you came across during your childhood?
Some of the biggest differences between Chinese and American culture is the very way that parents in each culture choose to raise their children. American kids are definitely more independent compared to Chinese kids, and parents choose to emphasize different aspects of their children's childhood, such as their education, who and how they interact with, as well as the relationship between the parents and the kids. My own parents chose to combine different aspects of both cultures, and though anyone's childhood is certainly unique, mine was one that was similar to neither culture. More recently, as a result of China's one-child policy (now much more relaxed), the kids in China grow up with the full attention of two parents and four grandparents, which is pretty evident when I compare myself with my own cousins who grew up in China.
2. Did you face any challenges regarding your ethnicity when you were growing up? How did/didn't you overcome these challenges?
I grew up in a neighborhood that was about 90% white and was made, quite early on, very aware that I was different, not just because of my skin color, but also because of the way I was brought up, and the values I was instilled with. Initially, I refused to acknowledge this and really tried to push away from my Chinese heritage and ethnicity, but that only ended in me being confused about my own identity. It took many years, as well as more exposure to the environment outside of my town before I recognized that it was crucial and beneficial for me to embrace and recognize that yes, I am different and that yes, it was okay to be different.
3. Do you face challenges today as well? How have they changed since the ones you faced in childhood?
Certainly, I still face challenges today, though they don't stem from me refusing to acknowledge who I am. Rather, today's challenges come from the outside, so for example, trying to deal with the problem that the way Asian Americans are treated is different from the way white Americans are, and recognizing that I have to be vocal about these issues in order to help address these problems now and in the future. Perhaps another way to put it is that now, I know that the problem is not with myself, but instead, with some deeply-rooted societal biases.
4. Have you ever felt like the way people perceive you were similar/different from the way you perceive yourself?
I dare say the way someone perceives themselves will differ from the way any other person perceives the individual. Since we only know ourselves best, our own perception of ourselves will be drastically different at times than how a stranger sees the way we act under certain circumstances. Likewise, even close friends and family will only perceive you the way you present yourself, in addition to their own prior perceptions. So certainly, I'm sure the way people perceive me is different than from how I perceive myself, but perhaps some part of it is just natural.
5. Finally, how would you identify yourself?
I am a proud Asian American who, while I love dearly both the country I was born in and the country from where my parents immigrated from and from where my heritage lays, I do recognize that each country has its own problems and that neither one is "better" than the other. Even though these two countries have heavily shaped me, what truly defines me are things that really don't care about my skin color or my birth place — my character, my hobbies, my actions. Because, at the end of the day, I'm just a girl who likes to sing, write, eat, make friends and talk.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! It was truly a pleasure to collaborate with you! 🙂
Thanks for reading!
P.S Don't forget to check out Annie's post!
Until next time!