Sunday, August 07, 2005

1.5 Generation Asian American

I can't speak English like a native. I can't speak Vietnamese too well either. By immigrating to America as a minor, I find myself embracing both cultures, but at the same time being casted as an outsider in both of my worlds.

Thus is a typical life of a 1.5 generation Asian American.

One of the most difficult things about being a 1.5 generation American is my relationship with my parents. Besides the generation gap, I differ from my parents culturally and politically. My parents, despite their naturalized American citizenships, are still Asians living in America. They prefer to speak Vietnamese, to view Vietnamese entertainment programs, and to socialize with other Vietnamese families. I took a completely different approach. I was eager to integrate myself into the American society. I didn't have Vietnamese friends by the time I was a college freshman, I started losing my Vietnamese language.

The main source of entertainment for my parents are Vietnamese music videos which they either purchase or receive pirate copies from their friends. A typical weekend trip to see my parents involving eating Mom's food and watching Vietnamese music videos on DVDs. My parents hardly ever watch American movies or eat American food. Their conversations center around what's going on with our relatives in Vietnam, which I care, and how Vietnam was 30 years ago, which I've heard 500 times in increasingly embelished versions.

I am proud of my parents for achieving their American dream. They came here with nothing. They've worked their asses off to pay off their mortgage. Their house is in a quiet and safe neighborhood surrounded by nice trees and green grass. They drive nice cars. They helped to pay for my brother and my college education. They have two beautiful grandchildren. They send money to our relatives in Vietnam. They have a nice retirement fund.

I appreciate everything that my parents provided me so I can be where I am today. My parents taught me to be a kind person and a responsible citizen. My parents taught me the value of having a good education, and the importance of saving for the future.

A lot of lessons my parents taught me are still in me. However, my American dream is vastly different from theirs. I'm not sure if my parents understand that I don't want a house in the country. I don't want to go to bed at 8 p.m. everyday. I don't want to spend all my vacation time and money going to one place every year.

My parents and I often disagree, but I love them. We'd get along so much better if they stop imposing their values on me and probably vice versa. It's something I strive for. I know my parents try to find a common ground too. It's easier said than done. That's the story of a 1.5 generation Asian American and his parents.


Blogger A Girl Running said...

It is really fascinating to read of how your parents still adhere to the ways of their culture whilst living in a different country.

I think it's quite admirable. Perhaps it is easier in the US but I know here in Australia it is very hard for some cultures to retain that.

Looking forward to part two??

4:30 PM  

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