Aside from all the uncertainties of a teenage day, for me there is one thing I can always count on. One thing rain or shine I know will never fail me. It is the inevitable fact that as long as I am with my parents, I will have rice for dinner. And until a certain point in my life, the question of “Why every night?” had never occurred to me. I simply accepted it as tradition. Tradition is a hard foe to face, but eventually I looked in its stubborn eyes and insisted on Tuesday night being “Campbell’s Chunky Soup night.” For those of you who might remark, “It’s not worth the fight over Campbell’s Chunky Soup,” you have to realize that an issue far greater than taste is at hand.
I do not dislike rice but rather object to what it stands for. And to me what the rice represents is a tie to a culture I don’t identify with, and of which I do not feel a part. This shackle placed on bi-cultural adolescents without our consent, is the pressure to identify with our culture rather than assert our individuality. My parents are fairly untraditional parents, and I feel that it is because of this that I am given the perspective into who I am and who I might have been. They are not untraditional in the sense that they preach “un-Chinese” views, but rather they understand them even if they don’t agree.
The keystones of the Chinese culture are knowledge, hard work and humility, while personality, social skills and a sense of individuality take a back seat. Need proof? Just visit MIT. Still, despite the understanding nature of my parents, the unspoken cultural expectations are ever present. Thus, I always felt that academic excellence was demanded, and I soon began to expect it of myself. I felt the pressure to achieve in school, and the concept that nothing was above academic achievement, not even friends was became the structure of my life. Before high school, my days consisted of going to school and doing work.
... questions: 1.What is the relationship between school climate and school culture? 2.How does school climate and school culture affect student achievement? 3.How does ... over time as teachers, students, parents, and administrators work together and deal with crises and accomplishments. Culture is based on past experience ...
The friendships I did have were severed outside of the classroom. Looking back, those were very bleak years of my life, filled with emptiness and what purpose I did have was not truly my own. I did not work out of passion, but out of habit. I was disconnected from the world and the people around me without even knowing it. I now find it hard to accept that this was the life I was expected to lead as a Chinese student. It has become apparent to me that culture should never replace individualism.
It is imperative for a person to discover their own ideals and not be brainwashed into accepting the predetermined standards of his or her culture. Why should culture be the most important thing to us as a society? Imagine a world where first impressions are not based on your looks, a world where the focus is on the individual and no two are exactly the same. It is a hard concept to imagine for us, a difficult end to reach, but look at the progress made in the multi-cultural United States. With each passing day specific traits that are considered “American” become harder and harder to identify.
It is not a loss of cultural identity but a discovery of individual identity, a concept that no whole is ever greater than its individual parts, and a concept that people need not be exactly the same to share pride in a cause. The events of September 11 th proved this to me. Although I always felt that I was an American, it was not until that morning that I knew it. When news of the first plane reached me, I felt as if I had been slapped in the face, and I knew for sure it was how I would have felt had my family just been murdered. That was also the moment I realized what America stands for, unlike China, a culture which promotes a unitary population, America stands for the individual. America is a haven for individuals with different morals, standards, values, ideas, and it is a place which promotes this individualism.
... Chinese literature shows that when everything is done for tradition and the individual is not priority, many people get forced into a hard ... developed much differently than western parts of the world. Chinese culture varies greatly compared to ours. These great differences ... play probably the greatest factor in the life of a Chinese person. This strict philosophy influences marriage, children, family, ...
Yet it is not despite of, but because of this diversity, that Americans can share an extraordinary pride in a single cause. That cause is that every human being should be allowed to discover what the world means to him or her without the pressure to conform to their biological culture. The cause that strives to replace the question “where are you from?” with “what do you stand for?” The same cause Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for when he said a person should not to be “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This is the cause for which Americans are fighting, and because it is a cause that we feel a passion for, it is all the more powerful.
Now you might be under the impression that I am anti-culture or anti-Chinese, but this is not entirely true. I am against ideas that present a person’s culture as a predetermination of who that person will be. I am for being multi-cultured, because being a part of another culture allows a person to step out of his or her own heritage box, giving a bird’s eye view of the box and all it stood for. I feel that it is my bi-cultured life that gives me this perspective on my heritage that perhaps my cousins in China might not be able to see, and I am thankful for that. Yet on an every day basis, I still find myself questioning whether any particular action on my part is a reflection of a silent wish of my parents I subconsciously want to fulfill. I wake up every day wondering if today is the day I forget the shackles of my culture and the pressures to conform to become what my parents describe me as, “Chinese.” I go to sleep every day wondering why being “Chinese” requires that I must be hard working, soft spoken, and humble, not to say that there is anything wrong with those qualities.
But I spend my days not restricting myself to these cultural limits but always reaching for more from within myself. If this is seen as being “un-Chinese,” then I will continue to defy these unspoken cultural expectations, because as the United States has shown, individuals can create a culture but a culture should never define an individual.
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