• Project Angel Island

Second Generation Immigrants & Loss of Identity

Everyone experiences finding their cultural identity differently. Though my father immigrated to America from China when he was a child, my mother was born and raised in America. Previously mentioned, this makes my experience finding my own cultural identity different from many others because I technically am a second-generation immigrant. I didn’t grow up speaking Chinese at home, so I never learned how to be able to converse in my native language. I regularly felt like I was not Chinese as a whole, but also not quite American. Most of my friends are first-generation immigrants and therefore have a different cultural understanding from me. Many of them fluently speak Chinese and are more immersed in the traditions behind Chinese holidays. Though I have now found myself more through close study of culture and conversations with my grandparents, I still feel the barrier between myself and most others. I feel as if I miss out on things to relate to with other people at school if I don’t watch shows like Riverdale or Stranger Things, and instead watch Chinese dramas and reality television. On the other side, most of my friends say I am incredibly whitewashed and hard to relate to because my lifestyle is so different from their own. My entire life has been so complicated trying to figure out where my small puzzle piece fits into the bigger picture, something I still have not been able to figure out. As a second-generation immigrant, figuring out whether I stand with my American upbringing or my Chinese heritage will always be a struggle for me.

Jackie Kwan



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