Nicole, Kayla, and Katrina are all students attending Seattle University. All three are Filipina American and Nicole is mixed race. Nicole is double majoring in economics and marketing. Kayla and Katrina are nursing students.
Nicole is originally from Beaverton, Oregon.
Katrina is originally from Santa Clarita, California, and chose not to publish her poem.
Where are you from?
My comfort food is my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. As a kid, I remember smelling her baking them from my room and being excited and the first one there the second they got out of the oven. I also associate this treat with my best friend. In school, I always made sure to bring an extra cookie for her. I feel like these cookies connect me both with my mom and my life-time best friend.
Warmth is a place where you can feel safe. Where you can let down your guard, your walls, and be free to feel everything you need or want to feel. This place for me is with my mom. No matter the situation, she makes my feelings and perspective valid. She is a warm presence which I attach my feeling of home to.
Something that makes me excited is painting. Especially when I am working on something for somebody else, it brings me excitement to want to do my best work and put in my best ideas. I’m a homebody and an introvert, so spending time by myself just painting (doing something I love) is the best feeling and is most relaxing. I can really enjoy it.
A memory of being Filipina/mixed American would be the first time I visited the Philippines. I went with my whole family and it was an eye-opening experience. I got to visit and meet my side of the family there. Especially going there with my dad, I could easily see how mixed my culture and ancestry really is. Growing up where my German culture/language dominated, coming to the Philippines opened my eyes as to how strong and present my Filipino culture and ancestry is as well. This experience made me want to immerse myself and learn more about it.
This is going to sound weird but I would say I am a tomato (lol). I feel like there’s been a continued debate about which food group tomatoes belong to – is it a vegetable or a fruit? That’s something I can relate to as I ask myself that question a lot – am I Filipina or German/white? Not sure where the answer to the tomato landed, but the reason I can relate is because this question about my identity has been a continued dilemma throughout my entire life. And even when I feel like I have it figured out, any situation makes me question it again. Also, tomatoes are a surprise. When you eat a tomato, the outside may not reflect what is on the inside. With myself, what’s on the inside also isn’t reflected on the outside. I am reserved and careful around people I don’t know, but when I get to know them I become an outgoing crazy person.
I would like to remind my future self that no matter what I’m doing, how I am feeling, or who I am with, that I am valid. That my experiences as a mixed person are valid, but that I am also valid no matter what stage of my life I am in. I have the tendency to compare myself with others and to feel bad that I am not as ‘ahead in life’ as the people around me are. But I would like to remind myself that my life and my experiences are mine and that I am exactly where I need to be in life.
Where are you from?
My comfort food is Sinigang. In the sour soup there is pork, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and other greens depending on what was cheap in the Asian market or what we are craving. My grandma always makes sinigang on cold winter days or on the hottest summer days. Food is one way to show love to other people. If food was a love language, that would be mine.
Warmth is an overwhelming feeling where you feel like you could fall asleep or pause time in the moment that you are in. It can be brought upon you by a person or place or a moment in time. I am from a background that seeks to envelop people in warmth, and I seek to leave people better than I found them.
Why did you choose your major?
Something that sparks joy for me is seeing others grow and improve. I am curious to learn about other people’s lives and help them towards whatever they find to bring them happiness.
Being Filipina to me means family. I love how Filipinos hold their families together and seem to always stay connected and tight-knit. I want to be able to help people become closer to who their families are.
Why did you go to college?
I’m like the wind. Always there even if it doesn’t look like it. Gentle but can also knock you over. Empowers you when you want to have a powerful moment. Keeps you company when it feels like you’re alone. College has been a place where I have been able to learn my inner, personal strength.
All of this was for you. I wanted to do something that was for me and something that could honor my parents and family in the long run. Through college I have been able to explore my gifts that come from my roots.
Katrina chose not to publish her poem.
Nicole: I think I initially just put them in the order and then I realized, maybe we could rearrange them, but after reading that over I still kept it in the same order because, “Where are you from?” like, what I put for warmth. I feel like that’s why I put it there because, for that question, I put warmth as a place where you can feel safe. And for that, it’s, like, my mom. No matter the situation, she’s the warm presence that I attach my feelings of home to. So that’s why I put “Where are you from?” for the first section.
Yeah, that’s the most attached one of the three questions that I attached to the prompts ahead of that. If that makes any sense.
Veronica Anne: Yeah, and if you feel comfortable sharing, what other answers did you provide in your exercise, whether or not they were attached to any of the three questions?
Nicole: For the memory of being a Filipina or mixed American, I put “visiting the Philippines,” because it was the first time I actually saw my family there. And then I also went with my dad, too, so I could see how different the two cultures were because, usually, I was only exposed to the German side of my culture, because I went to a German school here in Beaverton and I also visited Germany on a yearly basis to see my family there. So, like, it was really different to see my family in the Philippines and seeing how my dad was like in that situation, too. And just seeing the whole other side to my history and everything. So, I think that’s what I put as my memory of being, like, a mixed person.
Katrina: Something that—the question I attached, is, “Why did you choose your major or field?” And I attached that to, “What is something that gets you excited or curious? What is something that sparks joy?” I answered that question with being able to do something I’m passionate about, and so that’s what I connected nursing to. Like, when I chose nursing and I started volunteering at a hospital, I always look forward to it, I always look forward to being in that hospital setting and seeing the work that nurses and doctors do. And I was always curious about it too. So, as I entered college, when I took human anatomy or nutrition or psychology, I was excited about those and everything nursing related. So that’s what I did.
And then I guess another prompt I answered, or I could answer is, “What would you like to tell or remind your future self?” I said that I would like to remind my future self to keep persisting and keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t want to lose sight of my aspirations and my identity and what I’m passionate about. So always taking care of yourself and, like, prioritizing yourself and allowing yourself to grow. That’s what I would tell my future self.
Kayla: All right, so I attached, “Why did you choose your major?” to the last two prompts. And I said it’s because it challenged me. I realized I’m a very, like, I want to challenge myself, because before, I always felt like I wasn’t “good” enough for a lot of things, like going to college. So, I think that, like, the more that I challenged myself, the more that I realized that I’m very—the more I realize that I am capable.
So, for my metaphor, to describe myself, I said I’m like the wind. I’m always there for people even though it doesn’t look like it, and I keep people company when they’re alone. And I also said, like, I’m gentle but I can also knock you over, kind of thing. But yeah, I just remember how I can change and how I can just adapt to a lot of different situations. And I think nursing will bring that, you know, bring that fire to the situation.
And then for my sixth prompt, “What would you like to tell or remind your future self?” I think, like, I’ve just been working so hard—not to, like, brag—but just, you know, just in general. I’ve just been working hard, and I think that’s something that I want to remind my future self: all of this was for you.
Veronica Anne: If you can, please offer a reflection on how it felt to think about these questions, as well as writing down your answers; if there were any answers that surprised you, if there were any that you’ve actually considered before.
Nicole: Honestly, I really enjoyed this exercise. I feel like we don’t talk about these things as much as we should. And I feel like that’s a big reason why there’s a lot of ignorance concerning this, like, especially from, you know, people who don’t have that Asian American perspective. And so, I feel like—especially talking about this with people with similar experiences—it’s really eye-opening and just, like, definitely helps me through my own experience as well. Especially because I always see it from a mixed perspective, from my perspective, but seeing it from, like, Kayla’s and Katrina’s perspectives is also really interesting, and I liked hearing everyone’s stories as well. And I feel like I learned a lot too about myself from just listening to them.
Katrina: Yeah, same as Nicole, I enjoyed this and I enjoyed all the questions because it also got me thinking and bringing back memories, or just experiences in general that I didn’t really consider before. And now it’s coming to light and, like, “Oh, so that’s how that happened,” or like, “That’s why it happened.” And yeah, same as Nicole, I feel like these aren’t really talked [about] often. I feel like maybe sometimes we would just hide it within ourselves and I think also, it was a little difficult answering these, like, right on the spot. Feels like it can use a lot of thought and a lot of reflection too. I like the writing prompts because those were also like a reflection.
Kayla: I agree. I feel like I learned a lot from Katrina and Nicole. It was really nice to get to know them, especially since we haven’t talked too much before or gotten the space to talk like this, you know, before. So, it feels so good to be in a room full of empowering women, am I right? [Laughs] So, yeah, it’s really nice to be able to chat with you. I realized about myself, like, I thought that I was very comfortable with my narrative and my story because—you know in [high school] they’re always like, “What’s your story?” “What’s your narrative?” and I’m like, “I don’t know!” But I realized how I’m still so uncomfortable with my narrative, and I need to just accept the things that have happened and where I’m going now, you know? So, yeah, it was really fun.