An essay by international student: Chinese ethnic autobiography

Published under category: Sample Academic Papers | 2015-05-28 02:26:26 UTC

Context: Chinese studies

As a Chinese living in America, I have witnessed various misconceptions about the Chinese people by the American people. One of the most held stereotypes is that people of Chinese origin often do better in education than other immigrants in the United States (Zhao, 54). This stereotype has been enforced due to the success rate of Chinese students in most universities in America. They also go ahead to be successful entrepreneurs, earning more than immigrants from other regions. While this stereotype is true for some Chinese, the commonly held belief that the Chinese are traditionally bright is a fallacy. Most Chinese students work hard in their education due to the values instilled by their culture.

            The Chinese socio-cultural group lays down several important dimensions that help to describe the type of person that I am. The dimensions include the Chinese culture, beliefs and values (Zhou, 36). These are aspects that are passed down to every person of Chinese origin through the family values. The parents take it upon themselves to inculcate the Chinese culture in their children so that they grow up in the reflection of the Chinese wisdom and culture. As a growing young man in a Chinese family, my parents taught me that education is an essential tool for survival in the world. The thirst for education need not to be driven by the need to gain employment, but the wisdom that it endows a person with. The Chinese culture makes us believe that monetary reward and fame are unnecessary things life (Zhou, 71). One ought not to strive to earn a lot of money or be famous because good and hard work is automatically rewarded. It is good to be humble since it allows things to work out peacefully and in harmony. These principles of Chinese culture have played an important role in my life in America.

            Globalization has resulted in most Chinese people adopting the Western influences. However, a large group of Chinese population still continues observing the Chinese family traditional structure that is regarded highly in the Chinese culture.  The Chinese people do not identify themselves with their nationalities but by their ethnic groups. Therefore, despite the Western cultural influences, the Chinese people continue to observe central parts of their culture, for example, family values, regardless of the regions of the world in which they are situated (Zhao, 42). Although still practiced by some immigrant Chinese in America, the strict division of gender roles is quietly dying as a result of influence by American culture. Traditionally the Chinese family values are marked clearly with the males responsible for the maintenance, provision and protection of their families. The males are also considered the key decision make in their families (Zhou, 73). However, in the Western culture, this has been eroded, and both the males and females have a say in the family, with the decision-making on adult’s children lives not entirely left to their fathers. Women are to take care of the home, children and other family members. The role of women has been altered in the modern world with most Chinese women also seeking a career for themselves (Zhou, 78). However, these Chinese women still rely on their husbands at some point.

            As a person who has grown in a Chinese family, I still regard my elders highly since I consider them a source of wisdom. This is ethnically connected in the sense that, previously in the traditional Chinese culture, the elders were consulted for key decisions in the society. I also regard my family very highly. I respect, cherish and honor my family since it is a source of organization and wisdom as espoused in the traditional Chinese culture. I have also grown up to uphold the values of being polite, courteous and helpful.

            My life experiences, however, reflect that these values are not in practice in the American culture. My educational experience in America has left me feel lonely due to the differences between my personal values and those of other students. I am sometimes taken to be weak due to my helpful and courteous personality. The American way of life favors people who are aggressive and tactical. As a result, people who are naturally humble are sometimes forced to change into rough persons in order to survive. Change of personality is reflected in Frederick Douglass’ narrative of his life in which Mrs. Auld, a woman of great personality is forced to change by her husband. Mr. Auld believed that allowing the slaves to get education will make them be unmanageable (Douglass, 37). The slaves will no longer be contented with their role as slaves. The Chinese people are regarded as people of color in the U.S. Despite the discrimination rates going down, there are still aspects of discrimination in education and employment. This can be compared with the slave situation in early America in which the blacks were not allowed to read and engage in meaningful work (Douglass, 32).

            The education system is strange to Chinese students since it emphasizes the importance of education as employment. The Chinese culture, on the other hand, emphasizes education as a form of gaining wisdom. Wisdom automatically comes with rewards. The difference education system, the language and the food requires one to adjust in order to be comfortable. This can be compared to Zitkala-Sa in her school days. She is forced to accept aspects of a new culture that she does not uphold. She was forced to shave her hair, which was against their Indian culture (Zitkala-Sa, 188). She is also forced to learn the English language (Zitkala-Sa, 188). The food served in the school is also strange to her. She is forced to eat by her teacher (Zitkala-Sa, 189).

            The Chinese culture, unlike other cultures, has a strong regard for family values. The family values assign gender roles for males, females, children and the elders. The Chinese values also require one to be helpful, respectful and courteous. However, the traditional Chinese values have been eroded by the Western influence, although some are still held and practiced.

 

 

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick, 1817?-1895. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Web. Accessed on 14, June 2014 from http://web.archive.org/web/20080928090040/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/DouNarr.html

Zhao, Xiaojian. The New Chinese America: Class, Economy and Social Hierarchy. New, Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010.

Zhou, Min. Contemporary Chinese America: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Community Transformation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009.

Zitkala-Sa. The School Days of an Indian Girl. Web. Accessed on 14, June 2014 from http://web.archive.org/web/20080929172639/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ZitGirl.html

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