Tuesday, August 27, 2013

5 Reasons Asian College Kids Hang out with Other Asian College Kids

Kimmy Jin and her parents from Pitch Perfect
If you've seen the movie, Pitch Perfect, you know of Kimmy Jin, Becca's unfriendly Korean American roommate who only hangs out with other Asians.  While her portrayal, and that of all the other PoC characters in the movie, were problematic and played off of stereotypes for laughs, one of the things that stood out to me was the villainization of Kimmy Jin and her only being friends with other Asian Americans.  And since this is around the time students are moving back into their dorms and freshmen are experiencing their first taste of vodka, here are 5 reasons Asian college kids hang out with other Asian college kids.

1. Home-sickness.  If you're away from home for the first time, you're bound to get homesick.  Most people experience it in their freshman year and have various ways of coping with it.  For students this may mean missing your bed at home, family, pets, or home cooked meals.  For me it was the familiar smell of sinigang, the wafting steam of the rice cooker, and the simplicity of getting some chicken joy from Jolibee.  I cried the first time I had Pilipino food in months.  Sure, everyone was homesick but who better understood the deliciousness of spaghetti made with banana ketchup than other Pilipinos?

2. Family.  At college you're away from your family and friends and you need someone to support you in these often confusing times.  You cling to those you find commonalities with and those you can trust who have gone through similar life experiences as you and share stories of home.  Those people usually have traits that remind you of your own family and can share stories of their own that remind you of them.

3.  Language.  If you normally speak your mother tongue at home, you're going to gravitate toward people who can speak it as well.  At times I felt so much more comfortable with other Tagalog speakers.  I felt I could be myself more and express myself in whatever language I wanted to.  I could tell my friends what funny thing my mom said to me without losing things in translation.  Jokes make more sense and overall there's a feeling of community which is a perfect segway to...

4.  Community.  In Pitch Perfect, Kimmy Jin is shown joining the Korean Student Association, though in the movie this is portrayed as, "OMG Kimmy Jin is so racist toward Becca!"  In reality, student organizations like these are great ways to learn more about your culture and history, especially for those who weren't necessarily raised within the culture.  It's also a great opportunity for those who were to get that sense of home and meet people with similar struggles and experiences.

5.  Racism.  Yes. In college there is racism.  Universities are pack filled with people who don't know much about things outside the bubble they grew up in and Asian people are often one of those things.  Miroaggressions aplenty!  You get sick of answering, "Where are you from?  Where are your parents from?" and having the "OMG I LOVE LUMPIA" conversations.  And there comes a certain point in a friendship where you must have the cultural education conversation when their curiosity gets the better of them.  While I'm fine with answering questions about stuff, I'm not the sole representative or Google.  And it's fun to gather with your Pilipino friends and compare stories of the "I've only had panseat?" girl and the "You're pretty... for an Asian girl" guy.

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