~I get this question all the time "So where are you from?" I reply "Well I live in No. Va now, I grew up in Hampton Roads, but I was born in Roanoke, VA". Their response is "No, I mean where are you REALLY from?" I reply again "um...the US?" The response to that is "No, what is your background, your ancestors?" It's like they're not satisfied until I admit that my family is not from the US. I also have been told I speak really good English. Um...why wouldn't I?
So to satisfy anyone out there who has been asking, my mother is from Malaysia but her family is Chinese. My father is from Burma (Myanmar) and is part of the Chin ethnic group. We call ourselves Burmese-Chinese but I guess technically we are CHIN-ese heh heh. I get asked all the time though if I'm Filipino or Vietnamese. If my picture showed up in one of those "Guess What Asian They Are" quizzes, no one would guess me.
Growing up has been difficult at times. I was one of the very few AA kids in my grade, and throughout my entire 13 years in public school, I can remember probably less than 75 kids all together who were Asian. Therefore if you were Asian, you stood out. I would get teased constantly about my eyes, all the way up to middle school. People would come up to me and pull their eyes and go "Chinese, Japanese, Siamese" at me. I seriously do NOT get the point at that. So my eyes are a little bit more squintier than Caucasian eyes. It does not mean I see less than they do.
It's expected for an AA to major in two things in college - engineering or premed. I tried out the engineering route. Really. I wanted to be a chemical engineer. Unfortunately that did not work out too well. I'm now a history major. There aren't that many Asians in history. Both in my undergrad and grad courses (so far) I'm the only Asian. If you've seen The Joy Luck Club, my life was pretty much like that. was the perfect phrase to describe us. We had to do very well in school. We got grounded for getting B's, if you got an A-, you were lectured as to why you didn't get an A. Straight A's were never rewarded, they were expected. Which was why I totally envied the kids in my class who got money for getting just B's!!!
While this all may sound like I’m bothered by being I might have had problems while I was growing up but now I’m proud of my heritage and who I am. I really enjoy learning more about Asian history and culture and am looking forward one day to visiting China and Burma and experiencing my history firsthand. And also eating all that yummy food., I’m not.
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