Feeling accepted

We need to set an example for Asian-American children living in a predominately white community


As May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, it is important to celebrate the people and every aspect that they are made out of: like the hardships and struggles that they have endured to feel like they belong here in America.

I wanted to look back on my time growing up as a foreigner in a predominantly white community. I was lucky enough to have grown up in the SHS community, where my culture was welcomed and even celebrated.

Starting kindergarten at Southport Elementary, as an immigrant from Myanmar with no knowledge of the English language or customs, wasn’t a difficulty for me as I was provided with the right aid that would support my learning in the years to come. I was extremely fortunate to have been able to learn alongside my peers, as this unique environment helped me to adapt and learn as quickly as possible.

Transitioning between elementary school and middle school, there are different levels of teaching that students could receive, as in honors, advanced or regular. I would say I was a part of the group of students that would take more challenging classes and were taught to meet a higher standard. Starting in sixth grade, I could see the difference in the population of the students in these classes.

They were predominantly white, and a very little number of students were Asian-American. I noticed how the few Asian-American students would assimilate with their white peers to fit in. As cliche as it sounds, this did set the students apart from others. Too “white washed” to get along with the Asians and not “white enough” to be accepted entirely.

It wasn’t until high school where I began to see those Asian-American students all begin to group together. I am extremely proud of myself and these other Asian students, as I know the challenge it has been to stay on top of classes when there is a language barrier to push through and a standard already set to fit.

Many of us all owe our successes to the teachers and parents who took time to help us develop the abilities we needed to get to where we are. We now owe it to the younger kids in our community to not only set an example but be the ones that they can also look to, guiding them through their journeys.