An identity crisis

What does it mean to be Asian? What is the difference between being Asian and Asian American?

When i arrived in America to attend Trinity College, I was able to meet many incredible people. As I interacted with students, I realized that Asians in America identified themselves as “Asian American”. Although this did make sense to me, I wasn’t really sure how they were different from me. I identify my self as a global, international student from Korea. Being “Asian” and “Korean” defines me and plays a large role in how I live my life but does not limit nor constrain me. 

I joined the E-Board of Asian American Student Association (AASA) as a freshman at Trinity. I initially joined because I enjoyed being in organizations and wanted a sense of belonging. I also wanted to share my “Asian” culture because I am proud of my experience. Being in the organization for 3 years now, I have gained a lot through my interactions with peers and gained a critical perspective on race, ethnicity, culture and identity.

Below are the two most valuable lessons I have learnt from AASA:

1. I realized that Asian Americans saw me differently from them. I was looked upon as a FOB- Fresh off the boat (a foreigner that just arrived in the U.S.). This did not make any sense to me because I grew up in an international school where everyone shared different identities while also sharing a strong common identity- being a part of the international community. Although I don’t appreciate being labelled by something I dont identify with, I am always driven to break stereotypes and really connect to people through AASA.

2. I learnt a lot about my culture and was able to reassess the meaning of my culture in my life.