Me and my best American friend!

This week, I am doing a fun Q&A with my best friend Stacie Wiegman. I’ve been friend with Stacie since my freshman year. I met her in the University orchestra. She was my stand partner during the whole semester. After we getting to know each other and we’re both commination major. “talking major” she always says that because I am really shy to talk with people but I am communion major. She tried so hard to encourage me to be brave and practice as much as I can. We’ve been through a lot together. She’s one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met in my life! She will come to China and be my maid of honor next year in August.

Q=Chen

A=Stacie

Q: Compare your American friends. What’s the difference between me and them?

A: “Honestly, there’s not much of a difference except that it’s harder to get a hold of you when you leave the country! Really the biggest differences are just in personality and the fact that you had never had Oreos until you met me! It’s kind of neat because we get to discover more about each other’s cultures when we start talking as opposed to already knowing or sharing the same culture.”

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Q: Any fun or hear-warming story you still remember what happened between us?

A: “Where do I begin? The times that we got dressed up together for no reason and then ended up doing our homework looking fly. I loved the story of us going to St. Louis together. You took a lot of pictures of my dog, and you got along really well with my family. Then we did fun St. Louis things, and I got to show you my home. I seem to take St. Louis for granted, but I had a lot of fun being able to show you things I already knew. Then you tried St. Louis style pizza (which I hate), and you said it was “slimy!” I loved that! But then on the way back, we sang in the car, and you taught me Chinese. You kept saying, “Open your mouth! You’re not speaking French!” Then when we got home, I tried my best to tell you and your boyfriend “I’m going to bed, goodnight.” I don’t remember what that is now, but I definitely remembered saying “I’m going to the library, do you want to come with me?” in Chinese in the orchestra. I felt so accomplished by being able to communicate with you in your native language because we only communicate in mine.”

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Another fun story was when your dad cooked for us, and despite us not being able to communicate with words, we said we liked each other. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to learn Chinese after that. I love being able to talk to other people in a way they understand. Language exposes knowledge, but it can also keep us from it. If you don’t have the right words, then you cannot expect to find out what a person has to offer.

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What she taught me over the 4 years is talk with people! Anyone! Don’t be shy. Everyone has a story. If you are not taking the time to listen, then you are the one missing out. People are story-telling creatures, and everyone is worth a listen.

“One of those people might end up becoming your best friend and then you can end up being in their wedding and going to another country for it!”

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The mixed-race: Multicultural makes me more open-minded.

This week I interviewed the mixed-race Angle Grammer, who comes from the Philippines.2.pic.jpgShe studies at Northwest Missouri State University. I knew her in Missouri Music Educator Conference of last year and we had a very great talk.

Angle’s mother was born in the Philippines and then moved to America when she was in her early 20s. Angle’s father was born in America. She and her brother are both half Filipino, half white.

“We were always exposed at home to our Filipino culture. Mum made us Filipino food for every meal and tells us about her life in the Philippines and the family that I had there. My brother and I even got enrolled in a Filipino dance class.”

Angle thinks it is a bit difficult to live in the multicultural environment of the USA. She sometimes cannot find a balance point between the two cultures she is born with.

“Sometimes I’d be embarrassed of the Filipino customs my mom had taught me, or sometimes I felt that I wasn’t doing enough to appreciate my Filipino culture. Often I found that I didn’t know where I fit in here in America and that I needed to choose one culture or the other. Luckily it’s not like that much anymore! But I’d definitely say being multicultural in America can be a struggle.”

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While growing up, she always knew that she looked different from the white kids at school, and she was proud of who she was- so she would talk about her Filipino culture with pride. However, this is inevitable, that she, like other children who have multiple cultural backgrounds, experienced misunderstanding or teasing.

“Some kids were fascinated, but I remember others picking on me for being different. they’d tease me by singing “ching chong ling long” and saying that my mom was weird. It really bothered me, but I never shunned my Filipino side for it. Instead, I combatted the bullies by embracing who I was even more.”

Growing up in Filipino culture has definitely helped to guide her career path. Her goal is to open a bakery in the Kansas City area with desserts from the Philippines and possibly other countries.

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“My goal with the bakery is to give a safe space for everyone to try new things, or multicultural people to come eat what they love in a good environment, and, to give everyone a place to have conversations about different cultures and what they all have to share.”

She also loves learning about different cultures when she feels a little distant from other Americans. Hearing other Asian-American’s lives helps her reconnect. And growing up with two cultures has made her very open-minded.

“I believe there is absolutely no room in my life for prejudices or judgments on other people’s backgrounds and lives. We’re all different, and there shouldn’t be a ‘standard culture’. I was often teased for how I looked and what I ate, and these experiences have toughened my skin, and now I do what I can to stand up for minorities, and give us a voice.”

Vietnamese Student: Challenging but excited and worthwhile.

This week I interviewed Linh Tran. A transfer student, this is her sophomore year. With very good command of English, this little girl stands out among her peers. Before she enters Truman State University, she chose a community college in Kansas City. She did so in order to lessen her parents’ financial burden. She says:

这周我采访了越南留学生Linh Tran. 作为转学生的她今年已经大三了,超强的英语表达能力和领导能力让个子小小的她在人群中闪闪发亮。就读杜鲁门州立大学之前她选择在堪萨斯城的社区大学完成大学基本课程为父母减少负担,她说:

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“My parents are very protective so I didn’t get to go out with friends until sophomore year of high school. I like American education system. I like how they balance between book knowledge and real-life experience. I have always wanted to study abroad because I enjoy learning new languages. I’m also very interested in discovering different cultures.”

“我的父母其实把我保护的非常好,我平时都不怎么被允许和同学外出。我很喜欢美国的教育体制,我喜欢书本和实际应用的平衡,可以学以致用。我也非常享受学习新的语言,同时了解不同的文化。”

When she finished her second year at senior high school, she talked her parents into studying her last year in America. She underwent the bewilderment of “using the second language” like most students. However, with friends’ help, she quickly overcame the barriers.

所以在高中二年级结束时,她说服父母来美国就读高中的最后一年。不可避免的,她经历了大多数“第二语言”学生的困惑。但是她很快在朋友的帮助下进入了正轨。

“At first, I was still shy and didn’t dare to meet people. But I was lucky enough to meet my very first and also best American friend when I was in high school here. Her family treats me like their own child. They always make me feel welcomed and included whenever I’m around them.”

“当我刚刚来到美国的时候我非常的害羞。但是非常幸运的是我很快遇到了我最好的美国朋友。她的家人对待我就想对待自己的孩子一样。这让我一直以来在他们身边都感觉非常被包容和被接纳。”

When talking about the biggest difference between cultures, she said:

当我们谈到文化之间最大的不同时她说:

“American focus more on individualism. In Vietnam, people to people relationship earns more attention. Here everyone lives their own life and takes on responsibilities for themselves.”

“我认为美国人更注重‘个人’化。在越南,人与人之间的关系更贴近一些。在美国每个人都有他们自己的生活和自己的责任,人际关系相对简单。”

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As a leader of several students groups, Linh is grateful for the more opportunities made possible by the impetus of the cultural difference. She hoped to make more friends with friends from different countries and by doing so, find a new self.

如今,做为多个社团的领导成员,linh感谢这种文化差异带来的对动力给她更多的机会能拓展自己的能力。他希望通过和更多来自不同国家的人结交并发现更新更不同的自己。