By Alan Liu
Take a look into my daily life and you’d think that I was a typical American teenager doing typical American things like turning on MTV, chatting on Facebook, and texting friends.
I am an Asian American high schooler, and like many Asian Americans, I consider myself to be an “American” first and an“Asian” second.
I’m not saying this is bad. However, we must not forget the culture of our parents and grandparents. Our culture is a part of our identity. Being a second generation Asian American teenager, it’s easy to conform to our American surroundings. We trade authentic homemade Chinese cuisine for a McDonald’s cheeseburger. We would rather head to the mall than go to our grandparents’ place for moon cakes on traditional holidays.
But by doing so, we are slowly losing a vital part of ourselves.
Maybe we all just need a reminder of our background and what it means to us.
I had a rude awakening in the sixth grade when my parents took me to revisit their hometown of Hunan, China.
I experienced many things that surprised me. I realized that real Chinese food wasn’t like Panda Express. We got our food from the local market outside of our complex.
I also learned the importance of family relationships and respect for my elders, such as my grandparents, aunts, and uncles who welcomed me into their home with open arms. An instance that I can remember very distinctly pertains to a dish that I used to love as a kid — frog legs. In my teens, I viewed it as unusual and strange, and I didn’t really understand why or how people could eat a dish like that. But with one bite, I had a flashback to my early childhood. The event left me with a whole new appreciation of my family’s traditions.
Although I am and will be influenced by the American lifestyle, I know that it is important to keep our Asian culture alive and fresh so that we in turn can pass it on to later generations. ♦
Alan Liu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The stories in this issue are written by SYLP students, not Northwest Asian Weekly staff. Opinions herein do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the newspaper.)