COMMENTARY: What I have learned from Mary Yu

By Jamie Sun
Northwest Asian Weekly

Mary Yu mingles with board members of the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce at the House of Hong. (Photo by Jamie Sun/NWAW)

Mary Yu is an inspiring role model.

On June 13, I was one of the guests at a conversation with the newly appointed Washington State Supreme Court Justice. There were many things that inspired me during Justice Yu’s conversation, which was hosted by the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce at the House of Hong Restaurant in Seattle.

As a girl growing up in Taiwan and coming to the United States for college, I found it nice to know someone who, as a minority member, stands for her own identity and is proud of it.

Justice Yu is a biracial woman whose father moved to the United States from China at a very young age. Her mother is a Mexican farm worker.

What I learned from Mary Yu, and what I also value, is that we as newcomers need to participate in global communities. We can bring our own perspectives to make America better. We don’t have to give up our nationalities to fit into the American culture, nor do we have to give up our citizenship to be a part of the United States.

“Never be embarrassed, and never be ashamed of our background,” said Yu. This is a very strong reminder to all Asian Americans who were born or moved here. “We, as a different race and gender, should be supported, not  criticized by others,” said Yu.

My first impression of Justice Yu is that she is a very kind person. She shook hands with all the guests and thanked them for coming, and told them she hoped they would enjoy the upcoming dialogue. Later, during the conversation, I found out that my first impression was right. She said her job is to serve everyone.

Yu thinks both church and state are very important to people. She said churches reach into people’s hearts, and laws of the state force their hearts and their actions.

Other than her work, Yu shared things about her personal life, as well as her points of view with the audience. In her spare time, which is very rare, she said she likes to read good books that have nothing to do with the law. She also likes to go jogging.

As she spoke, I found Justice Yu to be a very humble person. She doesn’t think she could do what she is doing now without the community’s support. “Community gave me the confidence,” she said.

One thing that shocked me during the talk was that Justice Yu thinks the hardest thing is overcoming low expectations. “I am an insecure person, so I work hard,” she said. She reminded the audience that teachers should never underestimate their students. We should all have great expectations of others.

Justice Yu told the audience that it is very hard to balance our lives with our work. She has made sacrifices in her personal life, working 10 hours a day at the table and getting seven hours of sleep, leaving one quiet hour to clear her mind. She reiterated that achieving success and balancing life is difficult.

In conclusion, I found that Mary Yu is a very kind, humble, and brave person who stands for her own identity. As she sacrificed a part of her personal life, she succeeded and she is someone I look up to. (end)

Jamie Sun is an intern at NW Asian Weekly.

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