Asians Kids Have It Rough Too

Why This Generation of Asian Americans Will Break Old Conventions

All the love to our immigrant parents and all they've done, but it's time for a change.

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My parents both immigrated to America from Vietnam when they were teens. Not speaking a lick of English and dealing with the challenges of a new home, a ridiculously large family and the many obstacles that stemmed from war recovery and displacement, they struggled to adapt and fit in. Several decades later saw them with high paying jobs, settled down in the historically affluent and established city of Irvine, and having me. They had achieved their success story.

I consider myself lucky. I grew up in a beautiful neighborhood, never knew what true hunger was, and attended school in one of the best districts in the country. I was loved and had so many opportunities- piano lessons, tennis instructors, and the latest technologies (courtesy of my electronic-loving dad). It was textbook perfect.

However the 12 year old me who cried in confusion and frustration after being physically punished for "speaking out", and the 15 year old me who locked myself in the bathroom, throwing up because I didn't understand what an eating disorder was, and the 17-year-old me who ran miles in the cold to avoid going home because I kissed a girl but also liked boys, was confused. I loved my parents, I always did and I always will, but it felt like I never truly understood them, and them, me.

And it's not their fault, nor ours but it doesn't have to be this way, and it won't.

Subtle Asian traits is a Facebook meme page that has amassed close to half a million followers in just two months time. True to its name, the page features posts about growing up in an Asian household, and with many reaching upwards of 2k likes and thousands of submissions each day, it's insanely popular. I remember the first time one such post showed up on my newsfeed- it was a funny little thing about rushing to the piano when hearing your parents come home. I laughed, and tagged a friend. A few hours later, procrastinating and bored, I thought about it and revisited the comments. Many were joking about how they too had this reaction, and how they did this to avoid punishment. Thousands of people in my age group had this experience. And this is important. I know what you're thinking- "Really? She's going to bring a meme page into this?'" Yes, yes I am. This is because pages like this are signifying a growth and spread of a changing viewpoint on what it means to be true to your culture, while also creating a new narrative for generations to come.

Many millennials and Gen Z's often talk about the flaws of the older generation, and this is a conversation that is quite important to have within the Asian community. Although they have faced an incredible amount of hardships and trials, many still have a problematic viewpoint on race, sexuality, and mental health. My parents are no strangers to this. Although they can be considered progressive in many ways, having adopted a more Westernized approach to raising a child and maintaining income, they still hold on to troublesome ideals: the belief in physical punishment being effective, and the summation of mental health as being 'dramatic' chief among them.

This isn't an abnormality. Many of my friends, my roommates, and my younger family members share the same frustrations when talking to and discussing their own parental figures. This lack of understanding of the older generation's part stems from the prioritization of physical needs over abstract concepts (by necessity) and the historically conservative mindset of an old tradition. Although this mindset was helpful in establishing communities and a place for themselves in a new country, it has proved to be troublesome when put up against the more diverse and accepting narrative of our generation.

I'm here to say that this struggle is good. The fact that a meme page about relatable Asian experiences has grown so fast, is good. The record-breaking amount of young Asian-American voters turning out at this latest election is incredible, and the fact that we are recognizing our heritage through language, holidays, and tradition is a sign that it is possible to stay true to one's beginnings while also changing the narrative to one of acceptance and diversity.

For those of you who are reading this now, and are mentally nodding along with the descriptions of growing up Asian, I'd like to send you a virtual hug. It's hard, growing up with high expectations, strict standards about body image, and difficult conversations but, I'd like to implore you to think about the last time you had a discussion with your parental figures about what is troubling you- either personally or in the context of society. We, as a general population, are heading towards a brighter future- stable income, and kids raised with understanding and acceptance. However, it also wouldn't do to simply brush aside the contributions our parents and grandparents have put towards the future. Not everyone will be willing to hear about change, and that's okay, but it might not hurt too much to sit down and have a chat about it.

I am 20 now, and although my parents still joke about hitting me with a wooden spoon when I'm being particularly sassy, they are more understanding of my sexuality and my vision for myself and my future. It wasn't an easy process, but I love them and I want them to be included in the growing positivity of this new generation.

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

rahma
rahma
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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

rahma
rahma

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