The Dilemma of Chinese Americans

The two narratives conveyed two similar outlooks but different outtake on the issue of learning about one’s cultural background. The first story by Elizabeth Wong entitled “The Struggle to be an All-American Girl” tells a specific childhood experience of Wong in learning the Chinese language. It illustrated her unforgettable memories of her strict and dubious Chinese teacher who always made sure to ruin or to make it troublesome for Wong to master her native tongue. Meanwhile, the other story called “Growing up” by (name of artist) focuses on the author’s sentiments about the pointless purpose of learning Chinese in an American soil. Also, the author criticized the ugly side of the Chinese language as being “rhythmless and patternless” compared to other foreign languages such as the French language which was described as romantic and the South American language as refined. Both stories tackled the dilemma of most Asian Americans living in the United States of whether knowing and immersing to their original cultural heritage or adapting to the American way of living. Between the two, Elizabeth Wong’s version had more reasonable grounds for refusing to pursue her Chinese studies because of her disheartening experience with her Chinese teacher. More so, Wong have in a way exerted some effort to make her learning experience a fruitful one but due to unpleasant circumstances, she have developed a disinterest in her cultural origin.

Wong’s reasons for not choosing to follow through her mother’s request to study Chinese were more logical than the author of “Growing up” whose main justification for her rejection of her native culture was based on superficial rationales such as Chinese not being a “cool” language. In “The Struggle to be an All-American Girl,” Wong demonstrated her somewhat willingness though forced to learn her native language. She tried to study pronunciations and writing of Chinese but it was really hard on her part because she was learning things that were completely foreign to her accustomed American life. Though faced with several problems in speaking and writing in Chinese, Wong managed to work her way through her Chinese class by mere memorization of words without comprehension.  This technique got Wong into trouble. Because of her poor performance in class, her teacher expected her to also do poorly on her written exams. But on that one unfavorable day, her memorization technique had been both a success and a failure. It was a success because she was able to ace her exam but the drawback was that her teacher did not believe in her capability that she can even pass her exam. Wong’s poor scholastic record in Chinese class was the teacher’s basis for assuming that the only reason she could pass the exam was through cheating. This event made a great impact on Wong towards her attitude on the Chinese and their culture. Through this bad experience, Wong decided that something is not worth pursuing if in the process or in the end result, it would just humiliate or frustrate you.

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In comparison with the second story, Wong’s personal narrative dwelled on her Chinese learning misfortunes while “Growing up” focused on the author’s preference for the American culture rather than her Chinese cultural background. The author’s dislike for the Chinese culture was rooted on the connotations that the Chinese language is not sophisticated and that Chinese people are annoying. Throughout the story in “Growing up,” a natural sense of regret from the author’s dismay on having Chinese roots can be felt. In the case of Wong, she did not detest the Chinese culture by choice but it was triggered by a negative experience.

Acceptance or rejection of any culture and tradition is dependent on the person’s attitudes, perceptions and experiences on that particular culture. In “The Struggle to be an All-American Girl” and “Growing up,” both disclosed that despite the respective authors’ similar situation but different approaches on dealing with their dilemma of whether accepting the Chinese culture as part of their well-being, they had proven that anyone can do well in their chosen path as long as they put their hearts and minds to it thus achieving one’s goals and dreams.

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