Pride and Privilege

Interview quotes that touch on pride in and the privilege of having Asian heritage, appearing in interview order.

Be who you want to be, and don’t forget where you come from, because not a lot of people are as privileged as we are [to have these cultures].

Jaymielee, SU, Class of 2023

We’re privileged to have these different cultures and I think we just need to embrace that.

Alysha, SU, Class of 2023

The thing is that even though I was raised here, my parents made it like, “No, you are Malaysian,” and they brought us, me and my brother, back almost every other year because it was important to them that we never forgot that we’re Malaysian. So, there’s a lot of things about that that I’m used to. I’m used to going to the temple and visiting people because half my family’s Buddhist. [I’m used to] going to get street food at random times at night. I’m used to stray cats everywhere. I’m used to loud noises in the street at night markets—all that sort of thing. And I kind of realized that it was something that not everyone experienced but I was also like, well, it’s not something everyone needs to experience because some people just aren’t Asian. But also, I realized as I got older that so many of my friends don’t have a passport and they’ve never left the country. And that kind of threw me for a loop, because you can exist in America and have no reason to leave America, because this country is, for one thing, huge, and for another thing encompasses a lot of cultures and people. You can stay here and just kind of be fooled into thinking this is how the world works, when really, it’s just how America works.

Janine, WWU, Class of 2023

I do think right now in our [sorority] chapter for the last couple years we’ve had an Asian president, which has been really cool because you feel, like, a sense of pride for our chapter. Like, more people are capable than just the one group. And [though] this chapter needs to be more inclusive and to create a more diverse community, it is still cool when the leaders are not just Caucasian.

Maya S., UW, Class of 2021

When I got to Western, I think I was happier about being able to [know] more [about] my Korean roots and [. . .] realizing how there’s so much within me. [. . .] Like, the food is really good and there’s a lot of different things that makes it cool to have another cultural background, compared to just having that one thing that, like, everybody else has. I have another, different identity. I have something else that I can share with others.

Seraphina, WWU, Class of 2022

[University] was the first part of my life where I had that Asian American community, where I learned a lot about my own Chinese background through some others who actually grew up in a full-on Chinese American family with traditions and stuff. [Friends] would cook Chinese or Korean food and stuff. And that really allowed me to set aside the whole growing up with racist comments and really raise that [feeling of] being Asian is actually pretty cool. The food is awesome. And the whole stereotype—just throw that away, kind of thing. I’ve definitely gotten more appreciative of being Asian American because of the community at Western, regardless of the predominantly white thing, like, the community itself.

Maya K., WWU, Class of 2022

I feel like American culture very much has to do with putting your identity in the things that you do or what you make and not necessarily in who you are. Whereas with Filipino culture, there’s this aspect of family and togetherness and serving other people and community, which I think is so beautiful.

Theresa A., UW, Class of 2020
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