Asian Stereotypes in America

        Never in a million years would I think that I would be moving to a new country, a new school during a global pandemic. As a Chinese student who grew up in Hong Kong where it was a very diverse country with people from all over the world, it was a massive cultural shock when I arrived in America. Especially with the coronavirus that was started in China which was very soon known as the ‘Chinese Virus’. The phrase ‘Chinese Virus’ was also supported by Former President Donald Trump, who used the term in a tweet, which led to a large majority of the population to not only pick up the phrase but use it in a derogatory manner towards people of Asian descent.

        Before coming to America, I had some fears and anxiety about the discrimination I would face. There has always been hate and stereotypes thrown towards Asians, but as COVID-19 proliferated throughout America, I would always see hate online towards Asians, which only made me more apprehensive before coming. Seeing Asian Americans getting harassed in the supermarkets, restaurants, and on the subway, etc, made me question whether or not I was making the correct decision to come to school here, in the United States. My family and close relatives all were telling me how I should be careful what I say to people, and how different people would react to me, as an Asian. I was stuck with two very contrasting ideas of how the students at my new school would act around me, would they be interested in getting to know me as a foreign student, or would they hurl abuse at me like the countless, unfortunate instances which I have heard happen to friends.

        Typically, at boarding schools, Asian students tend to group together and struggle to branch out to other students, and this can be due to various reasons. Irrespective of whether it is because of the language barrier, the cultural barrier, or the underlying fear of rejection and nonacceptance, Asian students find comfort in the company of each other. Another common reason for Asian students grouping together is that in a lot of cases, they are able to speak their own languages around each other and respect everyone’s cultures, which can help truncate the feeling of homesickness.

        After being at Hun for nearly a year I am able to share how my experience has been so far. At first I was a little nervous about how the day students would treat me as it’s harder for international students to connect with them because of the culture differences. I tried my best to branch out and talk to everyone in the first few months of school, so I was able to build a lot of connections with teachers and students. I’ve been lucky enough to not have any issues with language barrier as I mainly speak English at home, but some of the other international students had a harder time making friends. A positive of this whole pandemic is the boarding community is so much smaller than it normally is so everyone is so close to each other. But there will always be a gap between Asian students and Caucasian students because of how society is and how we were raised.

        Aside from the weird looks which I have grown accustomed to, there was an instance where my family and I were refused service at a restaurant, where the waiter was constantly seating other families ahead of us, and quickly we latched onto the unfortunate situation we were in. We tried to persevere and hoped we would be seated at some point, but lost hope when after 30 minutes, other customers noticed and made comments to the waiter about how long we had been waiting, and we left the restaurant feeling humiliated and unworthy in this country. 

        Regrettably, I had to be brought up expecting to experience hate towards me purely as a result of my ethnicity and I know that people will make their own perception of who I am before they ever speak to me. According to NBC news, hate crimes directed towards Asians increased exponentially from 2019 to 2020. The rates increased by 150%, and sadly these numbers are only continuing to grow throughout this year. It is shocking in this day and age that I had to be taught to expect hate, but unless any action is taken, it appears this will only continue in the future.

        This article was published in Hear Our Voices.