The older and more aware I become in my mid-age phase of life, the more I relate my life experiences with my cultural background and my choices. I now know that some life experiences are not somebody’s wish but shaped by the society the person lives in. Living in America as an Asian boy has enabled me to learn how the history of my race has affected my life. Sometimes people falsely misjudge one’s status and traits basing it on one’s culture which denies that person some important aspects of life. The challenges do not prevent me from focusing on my goal which is to conquer them by all good means possible. Education is an important part of my life as it gives me skills, instils in me values of good conduct and further provides me with necessary skills to contribute to the development of my society in future. Although my life has been ridden with challenges, I try hard to overcome them so that I do not forget working incessantly towards my dreams. A country’s history is a critical aspect in the lives of people who originally belong to it and live in a foreign country. In this paper, I will employ Mills C Wright’s idea (6) that sociology is defined by the intersection between history and biography and reflect on my life experiences, especially hardships I have faced, which are connected to social institutions and the social context in general.
To start with, my family is not very well off. I can classify myself as a low, middle class person. A typical American of this class can access important goods in the society, but for me, there are barriers that have interfered and prevented from doing this. I remember a time when I went to a public hospital and was ignored and denied assistance programs. It was a devastating experience for me given the great need I was faced with. I was forced to musterall my small savings for treatment in a private hospital. Later on, I came to understand that every Asian in America is judged by the myth that all Asians are economically successful and other races should emulate them. In fact, due to this myth, some of us that are in need are denied public assistance programs. These are some of the many experiences that motivate me to work hard even more to securefor myself and my family a great future.
Throughout, I have longed for a better life. I realized the importance of education quite early in life to secure the growing career opportunities in my home country, China. Its rapidly growing economy makes it considered among one of the most progressive countries in the world. This increases competition in the top job positions. I decided to seek international education like many students of my age to get a well-paying job back at home. I find this decision correct by all means as it will enable me to develop myself and help extricate me from my present low-class life. For the same reason, I paid much attention to learning English to develop capability to reach out global community and keep up with the stiff competition in the world. My prospects and my parents’ encouragement to prioritize on education as the key to a better life is the reason I am here in America as an international student.
My life experience as an international student has not been easy. After coming to America, I started facing challenges from the very beginning. I found it difficult cultivatingrelationships mostly because of my poor hold over English language. That is when I realized it was easier identifying myself with my fellow Chinese students because we could understand and cope up with each other. I started becoming aware of cliques that formed according to races and could understand the reason why. I was psychologically prepared for any form of discrimination since the time I was applying for admission. I was told then that Asians face racial discrimination when applying for admission and are supposed to prove themselves extra brilliant because they were so many of them on campus already. This is because Asian Americans are cast in a certain image. It is the community where students have perfect scores, white collar jobs, and economic status that surpass even some of the wealthiest white Americans and this makes them often considered as model minority (Chou, Rosalind and Joe 12).
I was told that Asians were usually expected to get a better score than their non-Asians counterparts to get admitted and this isolation was a factor for controlling variables like legacy status, social class, and type of school. I knew my chances were limited and sometimes I would be advised to conceal my identity. This challenged me to work extra hard to attain a higher score that would surely qualify me in gettingadmission. Even now,though already enrolled in school, we are expected to perform better than non-Asians for purpose of access to opportunities like internships and jobs. I had the feeling of our easy victimization at the hands of the majority community when I saw one of my Asian friends getting threatened with a knife by a White American student telling him to go back to his home country. Even in my own case, I have been addressed with hate words, at times, but I have learned to be calm and keep focusing on what brought me here.
I carry myself with discipline not to evoke chaos even in the midst of all the challenges I face as an Asian student. My Chinese culture has taught me how to have personal discipline whilespending my life away from home. I can say with much assertion that living far from home has been adventurous. This is because my culture has taught me how to live an independent life whereby, in particular, males are required to learn living by themselves overcoming all hardships coming their way. I remember we used to be taught in camps on how to live on limited food supply and with restricted communication failure,among other things that helped us cope with different life challenges. This has helped me adapt with the new life in school and associate well with foreign students. In addition, my parents have always pinned high hopes on me as a boy and inculcated values of hard work and perseverance which have helped me cope with difficulties I face currently.
I know that individuals from my ethnicity and from other ethnic groups have different identities and cultures but politically I am an Asian American, and it is important to come together as a group on issues of immigration and racism. Unfortunately, we are mostly seen as apolitical because we are historically known as non-partisans. As a consequence, we suffer from lack of say in changing or adopting laws that are beneficial to us. It is therefore necessary for all Asians to come together as a political group to safeguard the interests of students of Asian American community here, who are affected by immigration laws and deportation threats. However, it is difficult to disengage ourselves from our busy lives. Giving myself as an example, I am so busy with school work that I cannot spare time for political issues. What I do is learn about Asian American history to share with my people back at home which I believe will help them endure the struggle of gaining equal rights.
In conclusion, life experiences are shaped by social contexts and the history of one’s community. As an Asian, my experiences and personal outlook are shaped by my cultural knowledge, history and by what we are perceived by other groups. Being viewed as a model minority has denied us access to public assistance programs and at the same time get ignored whenever we bring up issues we face, for instance, discrimination. For the poor Asians, the life becomes even more difficult when placed in the category of those Asian Americans who are economically successful. Fortunately for me, I have skills on how to cope up with various challenges in life that has largely helped me negotiate difficulties while living away from home. Other issues we face as Asians include being viewed as apolitical hence limiting our say on political issues affecting us. When people grow old and become more grounded, they start becoming more aware and help relate their biography with history just likes me. It is therefore important to be fully aware of one’s country’s history to remain preparedfor differential treatment meted out.
Chou, Rosalind S. and Joe R. Feagin. Myth of the Model Minority: Asian Americans Facing Racism. Routledge, 2015.
Mills, Wright C.The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press, 2000.