By Alan Reilly
When I was in American school, in almost every single class I had, there was always someone who asked me the question, “Why are Asian people so smart?”
I didn’t really know the answer when they asked, but as I continue my education here [at the Summer Youth Leadership Program], I’ve slowly started to understand why I became so smart.
I was born in China and lived there until the age of 10. At that time, I wasn’t at the top of my class. In fact, I was just an average student there.
When I came here to America, I found myself well above my other classmates, not just in typical math that everyone assumes Asians are good at, but also in history, science, and many other subjects. It felt like I had a sudden growth spurt in my head. However, in reality, it actually stemmed from the way I was taught from my parent and my Chinese teacher.
While I was in China, every single day, I had homework in each subject. I also had homework over the weekend and homework from tutoring class that my parent signed me up for over summer break.
If I failed, my parent would yell at me for not finishing my work. When I was at school, my teacher would yell at me for not completing work on time. I didn’t like it when my parent and my teacher yelled at me, so I always motivated myself to finish any homework they assigned.
By the time I got to American school, I already had the skills to study and had a routine of always finishing my homework on time. Many of my friends and classmates saw me as a smart kid.
Americans think I am smart just because I work hard, but working hard does not really mean you are smart. And this is just some of my own experience on why Asians are seen as so smart. I don’t think it means that the whole Asian population is like that.
I am still looking for the answer so that, someday, I can reply back to that question when people ask. ♦
Editor’s note: The ideas here do not necessarily represent Northwest Asian Weekly’s stance.