By Kimmy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Growing up as a first-generation Vietnamese American student, I have to constantly prove who I am as a person and what I am capable of. There were many expectations that I was held accountable for growing up. From speaking Vietnamese at home, to exceeding in school and staying obedient; these expectations stayed with me as I grew older. I do not really know where they came from, but it was always what was expected of me. Likewise, other Asian-Americans I know face similar expectations.
I wondered where these ideas of “who I should be” came from because in reality it became a part of who I am. As I entered high school I was constantly challenged whether I should be what was expected of me or to step outside the norm and be who I want to be. At times I felt like I could not meet what was expected of me. The fear of disappointing my parents lingered throughout my mind and became the ultimate motivation for me to do what is anticipated of me as well as beyond that and finding what I truly am passionate about.
At first, it took a while to figure out what I liked doing. Trying various clubs at my high school I found passion in serving the community. At first I thought it was just fun to be surrounded by my close friends while doing something that gave me a greater chance to get accepted into college. Later I realized why I wanted to volunteer around my community. It was not just because I was with my friends or to get into a good college. I soon realized that I served my community because of what I was fortunate to have growing up as a first generation Vietnamese American student. Serving my community was a way for me to give back for what I have. My parents provided me with everything I need, from a place to live, food, clothes and necessities I need for school. They provided me with more than a stable living environment. After high school I want to pursue my passion of serving my community, science, math and children by going to a university and later go on to nursing school.
Regardless of the expectations made for me as I grew up, living in America is a huge opportunity that I am extremely grateful for. My parents have gone through too much to get me where I am and the least I can do is to help the community I have been with for the last seventeen years. I kind of just forgot—because in the end I have it so much better than the generations before me educationally and financially. (end)