Becoming American, Becoming Ethnic.
United States has always been recognized throughout the world as the “Land of Opportunity.” The attraction of the promise of freedom, wealth, prosperity, and success had drawn millions of immigrants to come to America and search for a better life. One of the most important aspects is that the U.S is an egalitarian nation which opportunities are given based upon ability or achievement, rather than social status or circumstances of birth. My aunt was the first member in my family to move to the United States. She moved with my uncle from Taiwan during the late 1970s and married in the mid-80s. Due to my aunt’s success in the foreign land, my mom decided to send me and my sister to the U.S in search for a better life as well as a brighter future. Although life was tough and many hardships were faced, however, the experiences proven to be very valuable and useful. Immigrants from the maternal side of my family consist of my aunt, my cousins, and my grandmother. My aunt moved here in the 70s and later my cousins were born here. My grandmother immigrated to the U.S in the late 80s and I moved here in 2004. Despite the immense number of years between each migration, the reasons of moving to the land of opportunity remained the same: to better our lives. During the process, all immigrants in my family experienced some kind of assimilation into the American culture. Among all my family members, American society has definitely influenced me the most and I have experienced the highest degree of assimilation. Being the youngest member in both my paternal and maternal family, I have adapted the environment and been Americanized more than my other family members. I wanted to have a luxurious life like other Americans and immigrants. In order for me to be a part of this world, I must first adapt the environment and cultural differences. My first introduction was at school as a sixth grader. School is where I credit my assimilation. Since most six graders are new to school just like me, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. But when teachers ask me to introduce myself, that’s when my secret revealed. Nevertheless, since most kids were immature like me, none of them actually put me into the “weirdo” category. The cultural difference was what really shocked me. In most parts of Southeast Asia, respect toward parents, elders, and teachers were highly valued. Academic advancement, manner, behavior, and discipline were greatly addressed. If students cannot meet the criteria, punishment is offered. It is not like the Americans kids don’t respect the elderly, but they just don’t take their opinions, comments, or experiences like an order from the God. Like most immigrant students, learning English, make friends, and school work are probably some of the hardest tasks to accomplish. Occasionally, I get teased at school and I have a hard time understanding the slang other students use. Once I realize the difference between me and other kids, I would try to do everything I can just to act like Americans. I spend a lot more time at school with my friends and I unconsciously became more and more “American.” As a result, I felt relaxed in my new environment. In a period of two years I can almost speak English fluently and express my thoughts, feelings with other people. The whole process of Americanization occurred without my awareness since I was so young and adapts the environment fairly quickly compare to kids who move here at a later age. The only time I had encounter problem or conflict of my Americanization was with my family. Since I was so eager to adapt the new environment, I put all my focus into the adaption. As a result, I gradually lost some interest in my native language and no longer fluent at it anymore. I can still understand but I feel more comfortable and easier to express my thoughts in English. The preservation of traditional Chinese...
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