By Maika Bui
For Northwest Asian Weekly
I was introduced to Northwest Asian Weekly by a friend. I’ve noticed that the website focuses on news about conflicts and the goings-on of life within the Asian community.
I have an opinion of my own, and this opinion has to do with my generation and future generations of Asians in America. I think that we’re losing our rich Asian culture with my generation.
I must say, I have much pride in being Asian. I like to think of my parents as heroes, bringing my siblings to America to live in the ‘promised land.’ My parents believed that America was the best place for us to have our futures, and they were right. America offers us more benefits than my hometown in Vietnam, with education, food, and [a comfortable] lifestyle.
Being a second-generation Asian American in my family is a great honor. I feel that I should repay my parents for the struggle they went through to raise me here, in America. And I have, by representing myself as a well-mannered, educated, Vietnamese American. The key phrase here is Vietnamese American.
Being well-mannered and being educated are parts of life that are worthy, but ethnicity is what makes you different. In my case, being a Vietnamese American is what makes me unique. Why is this so important?
It’s simple. For me, a Vietnamese American is who I am, my identity. I am proud of it, and I show who I am by going to the temple often, learning how to read and write in Vietnamese, knowing the language and using it whenever necessary, and celebrating the holidays that occur in my culture. These are small aspects of my life that represent a great part of me. This is how I repay my parents, by showing the world how proud I am of who I am.
Sadly, not everyone in my generation does as I do. I have friends who say (in a joking manner) that they are proud to be Asian, but they are mostly proud of stereotypes, such as being smart or being “masters at kung-fu.” They never show it as I do, being active in their cultural community.
It’s disappointing to me that they don’t realize how rich their culture is. They never try to discover how rich it really is. I have nothing against my generation adapting to American traditions—it is great living here in America and life is awesome—but they must remember that being American is not their only side, they are also Asian.
Sometimes, I am surprised when my Asian friends tell me that they don’t know how to speak their native language, or even celebrate Lunar New Year. It’s as if they forgot a part of themselves and continued living only as Americans, not Asian Americans. It’s saddening to me that they have a unique side of them and don’t care to even explore it.
All I ask of my generation is to ask your parents for some family history, learn their language, visit their home country. I want our generation to somehow stay in touch with our own Asian cultures.
Our parents risked their lives to bring us here for better lives, but I don’t think they wanted to take away our cultural side. My point is for all of us Asian Americans, as well as future generations, to show both our Asian and American sides, and to keep the culture coming. ♦
Maika Bui is a student at Washington Middle School. She wrote this commentary for a school assignment.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.