Oh, expectations. We can just never get tired of talking about them. That’s why we’ve decided to dedicate a whole episode on expectations! Got to love them. And as Ceci Kim, an awesome fellow classmate from my Asian American studies course has intended, our conversation will focus on expectations put upon us in contexts that are broader than just your average work or school environment. How have expectations from our family and society shaped us growing up? How have we reacted to them in the past? How have they informed us to make decisions in our life (from big to small)? Tune in for the answers!
Ceci is a second generation Korean American currently in grad school in New York. She spends most of her time hanging out with her dog, watching Korean dramas, and searching for the perfect bowl of noodles.
TRANSCRIBED BY CLAIRE TRAN
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NGUYEN: Hi, welcome to Project Voice! This is Jess and ha, today we have Ceci here and… we will be talking about expectations. Our favorite subject. Psych, just kidding. Anyway, so Ceci's a good friend of mine back at Smith College and she was actually one of my classmates from my Asian-American studies course, Growing Up Asian American, taught by Professor Floyd Cheung. So, I thought it would be cool to have someone from our class come and speak to us on what some of the topics that we discussed in class - not only in class but also outside, in the real world, just day to day and it was really nice just catching up with Ceci again before having this interview. So I'm excited to hear what she has to say. Yeah, why don't you introduce yourself? Because I think you'd do a better job than I will. (LAUGHS)
CECI KIM, INTERVIEWEE: (LAUGHS) Okay, so hi, I'm Ceci. And I attended Smith for a year before I transferred out and I went to Stony Brook University. I finished my undergrad there and I'm currently doing my Master's in Applied Health Informatics, which is sort of like health technology, health information technology. And I hope to graduate from that in about six months or so. And I'm currently interning at a couple of places. I'm of Korean-American heritage and I was born in America, but my parents came over right before I was born. And I've always really been interested in exploring what it means to be Asian American and how it plays in with family and in culture and growing up in negotiating spaces between what it means to be American or what it means to be of an immigrant Korean background. So, yeah, I hope we'll have like, a great discussion today.
NGUYEN: Yeah! Me, too. And so today we'll be talking about familial expectations and that's I think [it’s] something we struggle with every day. Earlier, you made a good point about how balancing between these two cultures growing up; it's a real conflict because it takes a lot of mental energy and it takes conscious decision making to navigate between these two worlds. Everybody has their own way of doing so and I know that you wanted to explore expectations or how we cope with expectations outside of our work and academic spheres, because it touches every other aspect of our life: language, food, religion, you know? Even like, the littlest things like how we commute or how we socialize, how we make money-spending related decisions. Let's see, where should we start off with? So, for me, balancing these two cultures have been a struggle. How I do it is that, I don't know. I don't think a lot of people just consciously do it starting out. Growing up, it's more like just going with the flow and I think for one thing, it depends on your relationship with your family, with your parents, like how close you are to them. Fortunately for me, I think I spend a lot of time with my parents, being very open to them but I know that there are people out there who don't have the privilege of being that closely connected to their family in that way and that can really cause a riff between the two sides and it could definitely impact how you perceive your culture, how you see yourself, whether or not you choose to explore your heritage like, whether or not you have that much curiosity or interest in exploring your Asian heritage. So growing up, feeling with your Asian side and also having to deal with your American side as well. Like, I was talking to a friend earlier about Americanization, what that word means, what is the definition of Americanization, and oftentimes, there is a negative connotation to this term. And when we talk about it, like adults, like our parents talk about it, there are usually using it to show that they are grieving that their children or the younger generations are losing the sense of respect sometimes. Losing the sense of familiarity with their parents' culture and there's just a loss of this home culture. But there's this whole controversial route over whether Americanization is… is legitimate? Not legitimate, but is there such a thing? Because to me, Americanization is has its temporal connotation where like, oh you start out with one culture, being born into one culture, and that's your Asian culture, your parents’ home culture. And then growing up over time, you become more slowly exposed to the American culture and then at the same time losing your connection to your home culture versus having both cultures or being exposed to both cultures at the same time growing up. I think that's more realistic, I mean it really depends. Like if you're not born here especially, like if you're born from another country and came to the U.S. at a later time, then that may be applicable but you know, it's interesting to see how when parents use that word when they're showing that they're disappointed at their children, it's an invalidating feeling, like oh, we're losing, we're not as "Asian" as they want us to be. We're not as connected to our culture as they expected us to be and it's, you know, it's hard. They don't really understand that we're not coming from where they came from, of course. Personally I think my parents, they're from Vietnam and they grew up there so they have a completely different experience from my own experience and since I don't feel obligated to learn, like I don't feel guilty for not knowing every single thing about the Vietnamese culture because I wasn't born there and didn't grow up there. So, that's how I rationalize things. And then, so exploring different ways and how these two cultures balance like, I'm curious to know what your take on Americanization is like or like just what got you interested in wanting to discuss this topic?
KIM: Sure. Definitely, actually I want to go back to something that you said earlier, which is that this is something that we deal with ever since we were little. And maybe it wasn't so much of a conscious process, right? So, subconsciously every day, we're sort of balancing the two cultures, right? Or your heritage and America, right? And this sort of plays into the whole Americanization. And to me, when you say Americanization, it's almost like there's a sense of loss. So when you, I feel like the whole term is so loaded and it has so much baggage with it, in the sense that with Americanization, like to increasing lose the sense of something else, there's like a loss, right? But I also feel like it's a process, like everyday, you know, when try to balance everything, right? When you have, when you go out and you balance, you know, I guess the whole process- okay, let's, we call this the whole process of Americanization, right? Like every day, the choices you make influence this balance of Americanization, right? So, it's not like, I know you were saying how it feels temporal, right? Like how you start from a certain place and as you sort of become more Americanized over time. For me, it sort of feels like every day, some days I feel more American, right? Some days I feel less so. Some days I feel like I lose touch with my culture and some days I don't. There are periods when I was younger that I didn't want to be considered Korean. Like, I was like, "No, I'm not a hyphenated American, like I'm just American, like this is who I am." And then there are periods when you're in high school or in college or when you have like a growing cultural consciousness, when you're like, "Okay, I want to get back in touch with my heritage," right? But every day the choices you make, like every day the choices I make, it's just, for example, just so much mental energy goes into balancing this whole process. So, if I decide to move out of my house, does that mean I'm becoming more Americanized? Does that become, does that mean I'm betraying the family-centric values of my culture? If I choose to pack a certain lunch, right? So, you know when I go to work, I pack a lunch and I think, "Oh no, I can't pack this lunch, you know, it would smell," or, "Let me pack a sandwich, then let's see. Something that's a little more American," right? Does that mean I'm becoming a little more Americanized in that moment? But then at the same time when I go out to eat for dinner, I want to say, "Oh, maybe, I want to eat something Korean, I want to eat something from my heritage." So, I feel like it's a whole process, sort of like a give and take. Like it's, you kind of negotiate the boundaries and the boundaries change every single moment. Yeah, and then, you know, when you talk with your family - yeah, definitely. You were talking about having how this is all predicated on a relationship with your family. And I think that's like not only like your family's values, but also like what your relationship is with your family. If you have an open relationship with your family and you feel comfortable with it, the whole process, this whole balancing process is completely different. And yet I know that maybe because it's the immigrant background. Maybe it's because of cultural issues but sometimes it's just difficult to have an open relationship with your family and language plays a big part of this as well. Yeah, you know, how much language do you have to communicate with your family? How much language do you have to culture? You know that plays, right? So, if you know if you can speak a little bit, how much does it influence you as compared to if you can speak a lot or if you can't speak at all? How does that affect communication with your family, which in turn how does that affect how you, yourself, your identity, how you perceive yourself? So, it's complex, right? There's so many different levels and dynamics and things like that. And I think what strikes me the most is that it's not static, right?
NGUYEN: Mm hmm.
KIM: This is something that changes personally for me, changes from day to day, moment to moment, this whole process, this whole balancing process, this Americanization. I don't know, does this make sense?
NGUYEN: No, this totally makes sense. I love what you're saying now; it's fine. So, yeah, going back to you mentioned about language. I think it has to do a lot, like we're talking about what family, what our parents' expectations are in terms of our speaking, communication abilities, it really depends on how much they value language, whether they care about, whether or not they care about their children knowing the language and using it day to day because I know that there are parents out there who are close to their children, but they speak English more in the household.
KIM: Mm hmm.
NGUYEN: And then there are other parents who aren't as comfortable speaking English? They prefer speaking their native language that they speak just their native language. And then there are other parents who do both at the same time, like mixing in both languages. And for me growing up, I think I was forced to speak Vietnamese at home. Like I could not speak in English to any adult. Every adult in my family, like I had to speak in Vietnamese and not only is it a way to show respect, but also it's the only language they understand. It's interesting because my mom like, she prefers having us speak Vietnamese but my dad, he speaks to me in English all the time. So I wonder sometimes. Oh, I live with my mom so I am grateful to know that I grew up being more fluent. Like, Vietnamese is a very hard language for it to be implemented and I noticed that a lot of my friends - they don't really have a strong connection to the language. Oftentimes English is our go-to within the Vietnamese-American community. Maybe I'm wrong that there are networks out there, other Vietnamese Americans out there who have a good grasp on the language, but oftentimes it's just not that case versus other Asian Americans, they find that they have a closer connection to the language? I think it really depends on not just your relationship with your family in that context, but your relationship to the entire community, too.
NGUYEN: Mm hmm. We talked about earlier how these expectations from your community, they pass on to your parents and then and that gets passed down to us.
KIM: Mm hmm, mm hmm.
NGUYEN: How do you communicate with your family here if you don't have the language under your belt? That's a hard one. You don't have the language under the belt then that doesn't mean you're less Asian in any way.
KIM: No, not at all.
NGUYEN: Right? You can be in touch with your heritage, your ethnic heritage in other ways. It's really again, you define yourself and maybe language isn't your forte but in other ways like the knowledge of your country's history or taking part in the community or participating in their traditions and special events and holidays. So those are like, other ways of exploring and showing that you are committed to your identity. How do I even say this? Yeah, just, how you... define yourself. How you define what your Asianness is. Mm hmm.
KIM: I also think, I think communication is so key because I feel like in large parts of the Asian-American community, if there is a communication gap, for example, if the parents speaks the native language or the heritage language and you, yourself like, the child, doesn't or only speaks a little bit, that's a communication gap, right? That's a form of distance. And so I think that complicates the whole family expectations kind of thing, right? So if the family expectations are like if they are trying to communicate that but there is a communication gap, I think that is where a lot of frustration and a lot of conflict arises. And that also I think going back to the whole Americanization process, like that plays into that too. How does communication or lack of communication and how does the transmission of family expectations, like how does that play into your sense of identity and who you perceive yourself as, right? And not to say that, like you were saying that just because maybe you don't have the language proficiency, right? Doesn't mean you're not any more or less Asian than anyone else. But especially if your parent doesn't speak English, then there is that- I think plays a major part in how Asian community and explore your culture, right? Because it all starts at home.
NGUYEN: Oh, yeah.
KIM: Yeah, so it all starts at home.
NGUYEN: I agree.
KIM: So, yeah, it's just complicated, I think. When we think about maybe, like a traditional sort of American home, right?
NGUYEN: Mm hmm.
KIM: And there's the dinner table and you have, you know, Mom, Dad, you know two kids sitting at the table and they're talking about their day and communicating. And that's where you see like, that's how parents model expectations and behavior for their kids. Don't put your elbows on the table, whatever, whatever. But they're communicating, right? They're passing down their expectations what you think what you should and shouldn't do. If you replicate that maybe in someone else's home where you have two parents who are immigrants who only speak the native language and two kids who maybe are okay with the native language or maybe not that proficient or prefer to speak mostly English, like there's a gap there and it's just hard to communicate. And I think I've always felt like I grew up speaking Korean but then people even say, "Oh my gosh," you know, "Yours is pretty great." And I'm thinking, but I still feel even though I feel like it's mostly like a casual, pretty simple, basic Korean, I still feel like there are ways, like I feel like I wish I could- sometimes I find myself thinking, "I could express this better in English," right? I wish I could express this the way I really want this to be heard, right? And there's like that struggle where you just wish, "Oh my god, like I wish I could make myself understood at home." And sometimes it's just like, really frustrating like you have that gap. Then, you have the whole cultural misunderstandings where maybe your parents have certain expectations like oh, maybe you need to do this by a certain age, or if you're not at a certain, you don't have a certain occupation.
KIM: That communication gap aggravates it. Like, how do I explain myself if I'm maybe not going down the preset success path. How do I explain myself, right?
NGUYEN: Mm hmm. I agree. Language is important. Communication is important and especially if you're trying to have your parents understand where you're coming from. Like, if there's a gap then there's no way of letting them know what you're feeling and then all these frustrations that you experience growing up, whether from your parents' expectations, not living up to your parents' expectations or not agreeing with how they manage the household or how they're raising you. It's a passive/passive-aggressive way of coping in this going back and forth between the two cultures. Like, now that some people reject or they don't acknowledge their parents' culture or they just distance away from- and there we have internalized racism going on. And just because we're more communicative I think I can say that both of us have had internalized racism. Again, some people in some ways, too, even if, even though we can speak and even though we communicate with our parents often, but it happens all the time but, so, pushing yourself away in not speaking the language in a way that I know that some didn't have the privilege or didn't have opportunities to practice the language. It's hard because when you think about it, we're in the U.S. and it's an English-speaking country so we're just going to be speaking English all the time.
KIM: Right, it's the dominant language. It's the dominant culture. It's the dominant set of values.
NGUYEN: Yeah, and we can't do anything about it. In order to survive, in order to fit in to society, that's what we have to adopt. That plays in the question like, how much of your parents' language do you want to continue using or how much of it do you want to use every day? How often do you want to use every day?
KIM: But I think this also plays into the fact that in America, we're always going to be perceived as the other. I mean racially speaking, Asian Americans are so otherized that even though I'm born here, I speak English pretty much without an accent or a stereotypical accent, I've done all my education here, I still get questions like, "Oh my god, your English is great," "Oh my god, you know, where are you from?" Like, "Oh, you know, I'm from New York." Like, that's not where you're really from, like an alien, right?
KIM: And so even when you try and you try to assimilate into American culture, just from our appearances we're still always going to be considered something else, right? We're still going to be considered something of another culture. And so there's an internal conflict within ourselves, within Asian Americans saying how can I balance these two cultures? And there's an external conflict where no matter how much my citizenship or the fact that I spent my entire life growing up here as part of this culture, I'm still going to be perceived as other. So there's like, the internal and the external factors I think, too, that play into this.
NGUYEN: That's true. I am very much aware of that, like how others perceive me when they look at me. Like the first thing I think of, or the first thing I'm assuming that they see me is of course, my race, being Asian. And sometimes, especially now, I don't really care. Whenever I'm out with my parents or just family or people who know how to speak Vietnamese. It's funny, like I'll speak Vietnamese to them, and they'll probably be like, to my mom, they're probably like, you know, there's that whole code switch going on.
KIM: Yeah, definitely.
NGUYEN: Before, I would get very self-conscious over, you know, people will definitely typecast as certain character, as a stereotype because I am an Asian woman, but I just choose to let it be. I mean, there's not really a choice. It's there and people see it. Ehe. So, it's not just our parents' expectations that we're having to live up to, but also our peers’ expectations as well as just within our American society, because they have expectations for us that we feel like we need to follow through or else we won't feel like we fit in. For example, for me, like I used to listen to J-pop, like Japanese pop, for a while. But then my friends thought it was weird because it was in another language, in an Asian language and it's not American pop or it's not in English and they othered it. So, I felt self-conscious about that and I began listening to more American music. And that applied to TV shows, too. I felt like I wanted to- like shows like The Office, How I Met Your Mother, like Friends, I can go on with the shows. But shows like that that are American classics, I felt compelled to watch them because everybody's watching them here in Tthe States. And I wanted to be able to connect with them and relate to them, so I would watch these shows out of not only entertainment but also a feeling, a desire for connection with others. And so you know, like as if I felt cool knowing all these TV shows now. It was interesting because when my sister started listening to K-pop, in a whole K-pop phase, I started teasing her about it. Teasing her like, "Oh, why aren't you listening to American music instead of K-pop?" And I would feel inferior, like I felt oh, like K-pop is too, I don't know, campy? Ugh. But I think it stemmed from peers teasing me about it and I started subconsciously developing the sense of internalized racism towards Asian cultures. And having Western bias for stuff that's happening in pop culture, music, movies that are American or Western in nature. And yeah, when my sister called me out on it, it really like, clicked in me. And you know, I mean I love K-pop. I listen to it with her all the time. I think I tease her but I still was really, I was addicted to it, too. (LAUGHS)
KIM: Mm hmm. And you know, this sort of, you developing this self-conscious subconscious bias against Asian culture, like that influenced the media choices, media consumption choices you made.
NGUYEN: Mm hmm.
KIM: You subconsciously chose to consume more Western media because you felt like that would make it was more acceptable, right?
NGUYEN: Mm hmm.
KIM: That's like another choice that you make that how do I, I want to, in which where you try to become a little bit more Americanized. And so you reject your J-pop or your K-pop or things like that and you try to watch The Office. I mean it's not like a big, it's not an obvious big choice but it's also like this is something that's evolved and that's happened, right? This is like one small part of a bigger process, you know? And I completely understand. I completely understand. I was nodding the entire time when you were saying that.
NGUYEN: And it's with friends, too, peers, too, sometimes. So, we have people out there making fun of Asian bubbles when they see them in public. And Asian bubbles are basically a group of Asian people who hang out with each other. Like, why isn't there a White bubble? You don't hear that, but you hear--
KIM: Yeah, because it's not a bubble, it's an ocean.
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) Yeah. Oh, that sucks. A bubble. You can pop it and it's gone.
KIM: And I don't understand, like why would you make fun of communities of solidarity, right? Because Asian bubbles exist because people want to find shared comfort and support or shared culture, right?
KIM: Like it's like when you see like White people like, oh you know, look at all those like, you know, all the black people hang out together or all the Asians hang out together. Well, you don't see everyone making fun of like, five White kids hanging out together, which is like every TV show or movie, right? That's not a White bubble, that's just how it is, how life is, right?
KIM: But sometimes I feel like if you're not part of the minority group or the minority group of friends, people don't understand the kind of support and comfort you find, right? Just like, you know, if you hang out with like, a bunch of Asian American friends, if you like complain about your parents, the group that understands innately what it's like to complain about your parents in this specific way, right?
KIM: There's no explaining, there's not like, oh yeah my parents are like, there's not like, questioning, "Oh, your parents are like that?" It's like, "Oh yeah, my parents are like that too. I understand." Like my culture is similar to that, like I understand. There's less stress about explaining what your situation is.
NGUYEN: And I used to, again going back, internalized racism.
KIM: The topic of this podcast should be changed to internalized racism.
NGUYEN: Yeah, I know right? It's alright, it's just like, you know, we're just going with the flow and it's just--
KIM: Yeah, no, this is great. I like this.
NGUYEN: And with friends, too. Growing up in a Hispanic-predominate community, so a lot of my friends are Hispanic. I used to think I was cool again, because like, I thought to myself that, "Oh, I have a diverse group of friends like from different cultures. I'm not just friends with Asians. I'm friends with people from all cultures." And that's great if you do have friends of all cultures because you know, you want to explore different worlds through them. But at the same time, if you just want to hang out with people who share the same background as you, it's fine. Like, going to college, I was miles away from home, so I felt like I needed to find that base again or that sense of home and comfort for me again. So, I joined that Vietnamese Student Association.
KIM: Which I went to a bunch of you guys' events, by the way. Like when you guys made the rolls, I was there eating a lot of them.
NGUYEN: (GASPS) Spring rolls? Oh yeah, I remember! Aww, thank you.
KIM: I came and ate.
NGUYEN: Yeah, they were good. (LAUGHS)
KIM: They were really good.
NGUYEN: Thank you. (LAUGHS) I'm so touched to know that. We worked hard. We worked hours on them, like prepping for the rolls.
KIM: I could imagine, like you had to chop up all those ingredients.
NGUYEN: Yeah, ugh. Chopping them up and then ordering them, too, and carrying them.
KIM: Oh, I'm sure ordering in Northampton, some Asian specialty foods was pretty hard, too.
NGUYEN: Yeah. Oh, there's an international market in Northampton. You've heard of Tran's International? Anyway, that's where we got our food. Shout out to Tran’s. [BOTH LAUGH]] So yeah, that's interesting that we're just going back to this topic. Focusing on expectations now, again people navigate in a different way. Like so, if you choose to distance yourself from it, reject it, ignore your parents' culture or you chose to embrace it, mix it in your own way, compromise. Compromise. I think oftentimes is what many of us do.
KIM: Life is a daily compromise. Life is a daily negotiation, you know?
KIM: Every day is a different day. You figure out, it's kind of like you figure out the right proportion. Alright, I'm going to be like, 85% Korean, 15% American today, right? (NGUYEN LAUGHS) Like, but tomorrow I'm going to be like alright, no, this is like 95% American time. But it doesn't mean every day, like one day I'm wrong and one day I'm right, it's just like every day it's like just something you deal with. It's like another mental calculation you do with every choice you make, with every decision you make, with everyday that goes by, right?
NGUYEN: Yeah, I think sometimes we just do it when, we do it in our best interest, to our best benefits, too.
KIM: Yeah, for self-survival. Yeah, some days you got to tone down the Korean when you're like, you know, surrounding by a bunch of or you're in like, an unfriendly environment. Or something you just got to be more obvious about it, you know? Make yourself a little more political.
NGUYEN: It's like finding the spaces, the appropriate spaces when [trying] to communicate these identities or when you're presenting these identities. With expectations come with how we act, how our personality is like, too.
KIM: Mm hmm.
NGUYEN: So oftentimes, we're known as the silent minority and you know, we are seen as a culture that values silence but I don't think Asian people are quiet at all. We can be really loud, you know. I was watching a video about like, Eddie Huang's interview.
KIM: From Fresh Off the Boat, right?
NGUYEN: Yeah, Fresh Off the Boat.
KIM: The chef?
NGUYEN: Yeah, the chef. I think he's awesome. I respect him so much because he's just a serial entrepreneur and at the same time while doing so many things, he's also very pro-social justice, too. So he mentioned this story about when he was younger and he noticed that there was this other kid who was a Black American kid and he was Asian and he just noticed that he just connected with people of color better and how like, this kid and him, whenever they would mess around in a grocery stores, like dropping a fruit or something on the ground, their mothers would hit them, right? Like telling them to behave in public. And then he noticed when all the White kids were at the supermarket, messing around, they were not, they were just messing around. The behavior was tolerated. And that made him thinking how why is it that, is it ingrained in our culture that we behave that way, we act this way, or is it an expectation from society? Is it like we feel compelled to behave to- we feel compelled to act put together because we're representing our community and if we don't, if we act out then it's going to hurt not only us but the community that we're a part of, too.
KIM: Definitely. I mean, I don't see why it can't be both, right? At the same time, it could be like, obviously your family and your culture has these certain values and expectations about what your behavior is like outside, but I think it's also the fact that you're representing that whenever you're outside, there's this expectation that you represent the entirety of your culture, right? So whatever I do as a Korean American will reflect on the entire Korean-American group. I think it's like to, it's like they're both big factors. So, there is this expectation that okay, if I don't do well here or if I'm not, for example, do you remember the Virginia Tech shooting?
NGUYEN: Oh, yes.
KIM: About 10 years ago, and the shooter ended up being a Korean-American student, right? Like, reflected on the entire community, right? I remember there was a kid in my, so the Virginia Tech shooting happened when we were in middle school. And there was a kid in my class who had the same last name as the shooter and all day students were making fun of him, right?
KIM: And so there's this expectation and this fear that we have to be constantly at our best behavior, that we have to negotiate this, we have to perform and become this silent and model minority in order for us to be accepted. And there's also cultural expectations where okay, if you're not going to listen to your mom, she's going to kick your butt in public, right? [NGUYEN LAUGHS[ It's completely different, you know. She's going to take off the slippers and she's going to whoop your butt. But, I think it's both. I think maybe, subconsciously, all [Asian] American parents are aware that they have to present a good image, right? That there is this expectation from society that they need to present this good image that the only way their kids will be able to make it is if they speak perfect English and they get these awesome great jobs like doctor and lawyer. That's the only way that they'll be successful in America, that they have to be. Otherwise, they won't be accepted. This is how you make it in America. But that's sort of like, this subconscious drive. And then more consciously, it's like, alright, you got a different value system and how you're expected to obey and act in public. So, I think it's both.
NGUYEN: Yeah. Good answer. (BOTH LAUGH) And you know, that got me to think just adding on to what I said earlier. Sometimes we don't have a choice but to act in that way out of our safety concerns.
KIM: Yeah, yeah. Definitely.
NGUYEN: Like what happened after 9/11, I know that that really affected a lot of Muslim Americans here and how they dress themselves out in public, always feeling like they're in danger outside. Sometimes, we don't have a choice either when it comes to these expectations that society and our family has for us. So for the last 10 minutes, I actually wanted to talk about takeaways that you want our audience to receive or obtain from listening to this podcast. Cannot believe it's been an hour already.
KIM: I know. Wow, yeah. It's been, the timing really flew by.
NGUYEN: Yeah, wow.
KIM: So some quick takeaways from listening to the podcast? Sort of like if you didn't want to listen to the whole podcast, this is the really quick summary. So. go to the last 10 minutes and here's a quick summary.
NGUYEN: TLDR. Hehe.
KIM: Yeah, basically. I think one quick takeaway is that this whole process of understanding your own identity and coming to terms with your heritage in American culture, it's something that's never going, it's never going to be easy and it's never going to stop. Like it's something that constantly evolves based on the choices that you make every single day. It's going to be something that's started since the moment you were born and the first day you lived in America and it's going to end- I guess when we'll die, right? Like it's something that, it's like it's a life-long evolving process, that's just what I want to say. It's complicated; it's hard; you're going to mess up, you're going to feel like you're going to make the wrong choices and there's so many complicating factors like family expectations and communication and your cultural values. It's a process that I think everyone else goes through it, too. So it may feel isolating that you're the only one going through this kind of process, but it's not. This is a shared experience and I think that we can definitely learn from each other and if more and more people start talking about what their identity means to them and how they negotiate these boundaries and their spaces, we can all learn from each other and hopefully, make this a better process. Yeah.
NGUYEN: That's very true. And just reaching out, I think that's important to stress that. You know if you want to say something, just reach out to other people, like find those spaces, you know?
KIM: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And become more aware of your internal biases, right? Like, okay, why do you make the choices that you do? Like, becoming more self-aware. Like, why are you making fun of your sister listening to J-pop or K-pop, right? Why do you do the things that you do? Um, does this all stem from self-consciousness? Does it stem from internalized aggression towards your own culture? Take the time to understand why you're thinking the way you were thinking and be mindful about your choices, right?
NGUYEN: Right. And then the second question is what are some resources and spaces that you think our listeners should look into? I know that we touched a little bit already but.
KIM: Yeah. I don't know specifically about resources. Do you mean existing resources? Because I looked up a couple but I thought, or resources that I think should exist?
NGUYEN: Yeah, both are fine. Both are great, too, just because who knows, maybe someone out there will create those resources.
KIM: That's true; I hope so. So, some existing resources I have in mind are maybe, they're kind of New York based. So there's the Asian American Arts Alliance that's based in New York and I think Asian American Film Festival in New York. I think arts and film and storytelling and all these media, I think, is an incredible resource because it's a way of exploring the stories that we have to tell, right? About the Asian American experience. And I think just supporting the arts and Asian American art I think and experiencing Asian American art I think is really important to this whole process of understanding yourself and your internalized biases and things like that. Then I guess, some resources I think should exist, definitely resources that are devoted to Asian American mental health. I think that's a really big- I'm sure there are like, foundations and organizations that are dedicated to this but I think really a more focused approach on Asian American health, especially in like, higher education. I think that's really important. And I really think dedicated areas or resources that can help Asian Americans learn their heritage language, especially like, I know it's really hard to get language classes in Asian languages beyond in high school, elementary school and middle school, right? Like, you usually learn like, Spanish or French. I know there are some schools that are doing Mandarin Chinese and Korean in some schools but making sure that if you grow up with a certain language in your culture, in your heritage, that there are resources where you can learn how to communicate with your parents. Do you remember there was an article about where Asian American activists wrote a letter to their parents about the Black Lives Matter movement?
KIM: And people translated them into different languages so people could send them to their parents, right? So they can communicate this to their parents.
NGUYEN: Yeah, I did.
KIM: Yeah, and I was like that's amazing, you know? I wish something like that existed in a more like, with infrastructure.
KIM: Like a dedicated resources. Because I feel like a lot of language learning resources are dedicated to people who are new to language, right? Who don't know anything about the language. Where as I feel like there should be more resources for people who still have trouble with the language but they grew up with it or culturally it's like part of their heritage, right? So like, more dedicated heritage language resources for people who want to learn how to communicate with their parents. And making it accessible outside of higher education, like college and things like that.
NGUYEN: And like, adding on to that, in terms of spaces, student organizations are also very- I would say, joining a club that focuses on exploring different cultures or their own culture really helps. Or even starting one if your school doesn't have one either. I think that would be another way of going about it. And it's awesome. I am so gung-ho about it because it's not only a cultural space, like you're not only learning about your culture but it's also a social space. So, you get to network with different people, too. Yeah.
KIM: Yeah. Yeah. Building a community and building solidarity. That's so important.
NGUYEN: Yeah. Mm hmm. And another way is that you can go online nowadays where there are Tumblrs and zines and blogs and forums dedicated to our own cultural interests and it exists online, in school, colleges, it also even exists in the professional world too. I know that in Boston here, there's the Boston Asian Entrepreneurship Foundation.
KIM: Ooh. Didn't you work with them?
NGUYEN: Yeah, I got to network with some really cool people there. Very inspiring.
KIM: That's awesome.
NGUYEN: Yeah. I like how it's very, it's Asian-centric, of course. Like how we navigate through that space, it can be hard. Like, not only as an entrepreneur but as a person of color.
NGUYEN: Mm hmm. And it's great to see that there's a network out there supporting each other achieve their career goals.
KIM: Yeah, definitely.
NGUYEN: Yeah, so creating networks like that outside postgraduate, like after school, would really help too. Yeah, if anybody else is interested in letting us know more about the resources and spaces that you would like to know or you would like to get a shout-out for, please tweet us at @projectvoiceaaw or Facebook message us or even email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much Ceci for spending the time to be interviewed by me. I am so happy to have you on my podcast. This is great, like reuniting with you again and catching up with you.
KIM: It's been my pleasure. Really, I had a really good time talking with you about all this.
NGUYEN: Yeah, me, too. It was great, it brings me back to our good 'ol Asian American first year seminar days. (LAUGHS)
KIM: Yeah, if only Professor Cheung could see us now.
NGUYEN: Yeah, I'm definitely sending this out to him. Shout-out to Professor Cheung if you remember us. (LAUGHS)
KIM: For hooking us up. (LAUGHS)
KIM: Could you believe that was like, five years ago now?
NGUYEN: Yeah, it's so crazy, like ugh, we're so old. No, we're not!
KIM: Yeah. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) But really. Time flies. Yeah, we hope you gained a lot out of this. I'm definitely sending this out to his class.
KIM: Okay, that'd be awesome.
NGUYEN: Mm hmm. Thank you for watching! If anything, get in touch with me. There you have it. Tune in for our next episode. Bye!
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