Born In North America – Thoughts on being Westernized.

The Canadian/American Born – Some History

Historically there are about three waves of Asians that migrated to North America seeking opportunity and also refuge from Communism. The first would be the Japanese that began with the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century. After China was forced to open up to international society, Japan embraced Western technology to advance society. The second wave was Koreans and Vietnamese seeking refuge from communism in the mid 20th century.  During the 70’s there were many Vietnamese who escaped Vietnam in secret by boat. Some would get caught, and return to Vietnam to eventually escape again.  I actually have several friends whose parents escaped by boat and made it to Canada safely.

The third wave would come from Hong Kong. While still under British rule, many would travel to North America for education and integrate into society. Although Hong Kong has been handed back to China in 1997, much of the Asian stereotypes are often associated with the Hong Kong Chinese.

These people endured much racism, and worked extremely hard to in their studies to later become successful and well established. For their children, they dedicated their lives to provide the best of them, in hopes that they will have a much better life.

The Dual Life

Being born here means living a dual life. Exposure to Asian culture often is learned from their parents, or the extra Saturday schooling they would place their child into. All children would learn the family system, and understand what it means to respect others, especially your elders.

However, when we attended school, we were exposed to a more Western lifestyle. Not all of our friends would be Asian, but there was nothing really wrong about it. The only problem was that being raised in an Asian family often meant introversion. There is this almost internal timer that limits an Asian to speak. Unlike their fellow Caucasian peers, they would require several moments before responding. “Think before you speak” that was the motto.

Whether we were aware of it or not, we had an inherent duality of East and West.  

Like Attracts Like

The reason why Asians tend to stick together in groups is really because it is easy to identify with people who have similar values. Sports teams are formed under the common sport being played, and friends are gathered often because they are Asian.

Why was it easier? Well for starters, in most cases we had two languages to communicate in. English and our Asian language. For the longest time I hung around a group of friends who were almost exclusively Canadian Born Chinese (Hong Kong). We all shared similar values of discipline, respect, and community. The girls would share their love for Asian celebrities, while the guys would indulge in video games.

There was sometimes the token white guy who would venture into the group, but he would be openly accepted – provided that he would be open to learning Asian culture. The funny thing is that I don’t ever remember a Caucasian female ever really venturing into an Asian group. The only exception is if an Asian male of the group had a Caucasian girlfriend. Even now looking back on it, I don’t think she’d ever really feel like she would fit in with the group.

The Downsides

I would have to say the most difficult thing about being an Asian growing up in North America is finding your own unique identity. Asian parents often spoil their children of an easy road to success, but they often end up directionless.  Video games become a alternate reality to escape from the harsh society, or they work diligently to become successful, but never take an individual stance.

As an Asian male, the formula to success is just work harder.

We are so used to being told what to do, and we put our own head down and grind it out. In a sense we become merely a highly skilled technician – a functional unit. When it comes to love, we were not taught exactly how to love as a child. Even I admit, my parents really never taught me how to love. Dad was a workaholic, and worked tirelessly to provide for the family, and mom made sure the household was always running smoothly. In that case we learned from popular culture. Television, movies, as well as internet was our preferred media.

When we received bad grades, we would blessed with fear and submission into working harder. It was rarely because “I” wanted to do it. It was because “I” believed it was expected of me to do it.

Finding your Westernized Asian Man

This will come down to which type of Asian male you prefer. Refer to the TCAI post. Your common Technophile and Comedian are ubiquitous – those are the typical Asian males you will find. You might find your Technophile from his online presence, while a Comedian is usually around a social group. Find a certain interest you like, and maybe you will also find him there. Ambitious ones are generally focused, and are usually best found before they become successful. Meaning that you usually have to find them while in school and realize that they have a great future ahead of them and you are willing to wait and support them with your love.  If you are lucky enough to meet an individual, you may find him engrossed in some expressive medium. Anything to do with the arts, design, or performance – you will find them, and often alone in the world because it feels like nobody truly understands them. The main thing is to recognize that he is special and show that you want to understand him. Be patient and you will be rewarded.

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2 Responses to Born In North America – Thoughts on being Westernized.

  1. cheung3fung says:

    You forgot the Chinese who were conned into coming into America (“Gold Mountain” sensation) and built
    the railroads in San Francisco.

    • AMWF Love says:

      Absolutely, much to the same as the Chinese that built the CN railroad line in Western Canada as well.

      Of course this article is not about being detailed, it’s the fact that Asians raised in North America tend to have a dual life. In school they learn American or Canadian systems about life, but come home to an Asian family-orientated lifestyle. (there are exceptions of course).

      Just as ones raised in Asia, even Asians raised here may have inherent tendencies to be quiet or less outgoing. This is not to say that there are no outgoing types, in fact, as I have mentioned before we like to use a TCAI model to describe Asian men. The only difference between ones in the East versus the West is that the TCAI distribution is different. Out here in the West I would say there are less Technophiles (still many) but now they have developed into Comedians (language/cultural developments), Ambitious (parents who “made it” here place high expectations on kids), and Individuals (ability for free-thinking).

      – Brian

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