Caught Between Two Worlds


By Diana Chin | Asian Students in America

*Accidentally bumps into someone*
“Sorry.” I said.
*Man turns around*
“Dang! Your English is clear. Where are you from?” said the Man. 

My name is Diana Chin. I am American born Chinese, known as ABC, but this identity is not as easy as 1,2,3.

I grew up in Cupertino, California, a city that is 31% Caucasian, 63% Asian, a city where my demographic was easily accepted. And to this day as an Asian American, I struggle to define myself, straddling between “Western” teachings and my family’s “Eastern” ways. I remember coming home from elementary school, dropping my backpack on the ground, and racing against time to catch The Fairly OddParents. But within seconds of the show, my mother would come in, turn off the TV, and say “homework time.”

Growing up, there were always two ways of doing things. How to solve a math problem, how to hold a pencil, how to sit in perfect posture, how to correctly write a Chinese character. There was always the debate between how my teacher taught me and how my mother learned. There was always the debate between peanut butter jelly sandwich or fried rice for lunch. There was always the debate about eating out or cooking at home, let alone sitting outside or inside at a restaurant. 

But on the contrary, my father would come home and bring me to the park to play soccer and run around. Letting my mind loose of the dreaded homework my mother would remind me about. He would buy me a Slurpee as oppose to herbal tea, or eat a hamburger instead of Chinese porridge. Looking back, I had experienced two worlds in one household.

And then I came to Syracuse University, where the tables have turned and Asians make up a minute population. Yet that feeling of two worlds struck me again with a whirlwind of emotions. But my identity as an Asian American has never left me even being 2,400 miles away from home. Through the friendships made, organizations and activities involved, experiences gained, I continue to learn what it means to be an Asian America. 

Identifying as an Asian American is my way of refusing to choose between either, and instead, finding value in both. I may not be able to understand fully what it means to be completely American or completely Chinese. But I continue to gain a greater appreciation and discovery in exploring my Chinese-American heritage. 

And yes, my “English is clear,” but more importantly, I am Asian American.

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