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I Am An Immigrant Series

I Am An Immigrant – Voices

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“Even though I grew up in different Asian countries, my family wants me to be completely Japanese. So, we only speak Japanese at home.”
Queens, NY
I moved a lot when I was young. I don’t really have much memory about that. I was born in Thailand and then I moved to Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and finally I came here. I also lived in Japan for nine months. For the first seven years, I primarily lived in Asia. People were very nice to me because I was a little kid. They were very welcoming and very kind. There was lots of nature where I lived and I didn’t need to study too much. But when I came to New York City, that completely changed since I had to study a lot. The elementary school I went to was really hard. My parents picked that school, by accident, and it happened to be the second best elementary school in all New York. Back then, I didn’t know that much English. And there weren’t many Japanese people in school. So, communicating was really hard and tests were really hard. People around me were very stressed out, and competitive, unlike that places where I had lived in Malaysia and Taiwan that were primarily countryside. People there were always relaxed. I speak Japanese and I used to speak Chinese and Korean, but I don’t remember those languages anymore. Japanese was my first language and even though I grew up in different Asian countries, my family wants me to be completely Japanese. So, we only speak Japanese at home. My parents are very traditional Japanese people. They taught me from a very young age about Japanese culture and manners. So even today, I feel more comfortable when I am around Japanese people. On campus, I fit in very well among the international Japanese students because our parents raised us up similarly. We have very similar values which are very different from American values.
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