I’m not just American. I’m Asian-American. It shouldn’t make a difference which phrase I use right? I’m still considered American. But no. There is a difference. Despite my Asian ethnicity, until more recently, I haven’t connected much with Asian heritage and culture. Attending predominantly white schools with lots of privledge as well as being surrounded by majority white people, I saw myself as one of them. I remember a day trip I took to Chinatown in Chicago (where I live) with my parents realizing all the people walking past by me and trying so hard not to stare at them because I was not used to seeing so many people that looked exactly like me. It was a weird feeling. I felt like in a way I did not belong because I do not speak the language (I only know very little), I felt so out of place. I felt lost. At times I wanted to try to speak to them but I knew they would speak back to me and I would not know what to say and I would feel bad and sort of ashamed that I can’t speak my language of where I am from. I consider myself more American than Asian. My identity ought to be American-Asian instead Asian-American. Because I feel more American at heart, I grew up American. Yet, “where are you and your family from?” is always the first questions people ask when they meet me. I can’t avoid my Asian identity. I am currently in the proccess of learning Chinese it will take time but I hope by the end of the year I am able to write and speak it well. When I hang out with my non-Asian friends I don’t think much of it considering I am the only Asian in the group. Yet, when I am surrounded by my Asian friends, I become very aware of my race and the fact that we’re all asian. To this very day, I am still struggling to find my place in the world. Thus, the importance of the hyphen. I am not just one, I am both.

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