5.24.2011

3G Asian-American


Being a child of immigrants, I owe a particular debt to parents because of the ways they sublimated their needs and wants in the quest of the proverbial "better life for their children." My parents were by no means poor in Taiwan, but, drawn by "the land of opportunity," they attended grad school, married, and settled down in America, a place with different rules, different social networks, and a different language than what they knew. They bore the limitations placed upon them by this foreignness in order to put my sister and me in good schools, give us every resource we needed to thrive, and put us in a position where opportunities abounded in our respective horizons.

The milieu in which I parent is therefore an easier one than my parents did. English is my home language, I am comfortable circulating amongst the nuances and networks that govern life in America, and my children's wrestling with their hyphenated status (Asian and American) will not be nearly as discombobulating as mine, with different cultures and languages and norms at home versus outside the home.

My parents' social circles when I was growing up was relatively tight, as their fellow first-generation Taiwanese-Americans would gather to partake in food, conversation, and issues specific to their points of reference. For us and for our kids, the world is bigger and broader and more diverse, with attendant pros and cons.

I am hope I am not conveying that either experience is better or worse, just that they are different. I will say that my parents worked hard and schemed hard in such a dogged and selfless manner that I cannot help but feel grateful and motivated. I hope they see my sister and me going about our lives, with the many advantages we are fortunate to have, and that they realize that they have largely succeeded in what they were hoping for when they first came to America some 40+ years ago. And I hope, for their sake, my sake, and my kids' sake, that I can be at least half the parents they were, in terms of helping make a way for my kids to have an even more expansive and fulfilling and generous life.
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