Am I the only Asian?

Aleyna Yamaguchi

Aleyna Yamaguchi

Aleyna Yamaguchi
SYLP student

One summer, I was walking with my two siblings to the annual Bon Odori festival in Seattle. As we walked side by side, our faces may have looked similar, but our personalities and clothes were completely different.

To my right, my older sister was chatting on her phone, while fixing her Abercrombie shirt. To my left, my younger brother set his iPod headphones to his ears and cranked up the volume. I wore the traditional Japanese happi coat that my grandmother bought for me when she traveled to Japan.

Many people have told me that I’m the only “Asian” kid in the family. I didn’t really know what they were talking about until I looked a little closer.

It wasn’t the clothing that was defining us. I started to think about many things that night. What makes me more “Asian” than my brother and sister? Both of my siblings are more Americanized, and I don’t want to be apart of that.

It’s not a major problem, but I just don’t want to lose who  I am. So, I try to do activities that will separate me from what my siblings normally do. If there is any cultural event taking place anywhere, I try my best to go to it, such as Bon Odori, Aki Matsuri, the International District Summer Festival, or even mushroom picking with my dad.

My brother and sister, on the other hand, always tell my parents that they don’t feel like going and never attend. I used to be this way, but my conscience always told me that I should go to these kinds of events to keep in touch with who I am. There are times when I feel like I’m fighting to keep our culture alive in our family, not only because my siblings are Americanized, but because my parents are, too.

They both seem to be losing their speaking abilities in their own language, and since none of us can speak anything other than English, I’m trying to learn everything they’re losing to keep our Asian side afloat. My mom told me that when I was younger, she stopped speaking to me in Chinese at an early age.

I remember my brother telling me that he’d rather take Spanish than Japanese because it was easier, and I also remember my sister telling me that she doesn’t care much for learning it, either.

I felt a little distressed because these were my own siblings pretty much saying to me that they don’t care to learn about their own culture.

If I could, I would turn back the clock to when I was younger and somehow engage myself and my family in activities that will help us grow and branch out into our different cultures. If that were possible, then I would do it in a heartbeat. ♦

Aleyna Yamaguchi can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

(The stories in this issue are written by SYLP students, not Northwest Asian Weekly staff. Opinions herein do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the newspaper.)

4 Responses to “Am I the only Asian?”

  1. i love the Bazooka of Megatron, i don’t understand why they did not include it on the movie -.-

  2. Megatron says:

    I’m sure your siblings will continue to lose their heritage as your parents refuse to do anything (or make your siblings participate) related to your family’s culture. Your parents do not care or have accepted their path.

    You wrote that your mother stopped speaking Chinese. Then you have two heritages.. Chinese and Japanese. Would you like more of both in your family, or just Japanaese?

    You must realize that you and your family are Americans now. This is the culture and society they are growing up in and nothing will change this.

    Your siblings are learning the culture and society to live in American’s Culture and Society. Spanish will help accomplish this more than Chinese or Japanese.

    You must understand also that no matter how many books you or they read, or how much media they watch or hear from your originating country, it will never be a substitute for growing up in the originating country. They will grow up American.

    Your parents have chosen to live in this country because of the positives it offers. You should not shun your siblings because they are simply striving to be a product of their environment nor because they will have to make a living as an American someday.

  3. Andrew says:

    Talking on a cell phone? Listening to an Ipod?

    Let me tell you, I just returned from Japan yesterday and there is nothing more Japanese than talking or messaging on a cell phone or listening to an Ipod.

    My impression of Japan after a long absence is that people talk to each other less. They are either occupied with their cell phone, lost in whatever they are listening to on their Ipod — and wearing Abercombie shirts.

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