Reflecting on My Chinese-American Identity
I applied to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Summer Exchange Program because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. Before studying abroad, the thought of traveling to an unfamiliar country by myself terrified me. However, my nervousness soon turned to excitement once I arrived in Hong Kong. It wasn’t long until I fell in love with my surroundings.
After reflecting on the past two months, I realize that the endless possibilities and opportunities were what I enjoyed most about studying abroad. Although daunting at first, it was the fear of the unknown that fueled me throughout the whole trip.
One of the goals I set for myself before departing to Hong Kong was to use my study abroad experience as a way to reflect on my Chinese-American identity and my uncertainties that surrounded it. Once at HKUST, I was quickly able to find other Chinese-Americans that I could relate to. It was reassuring and eye-opening to meet Chinese-Americans from all different parts of America that shared similar experiences as mine. From walking through the streets of Hong Kong to riding the MTR, I was able to discover firsthand the roots of my heritage while also learning new things along the way.
The HKUST program also allowed me to extend my knowledge and share my culture with those unfamiliar to it. There were many of my peers who knew nothing about Chinese culture or customs. It made me proud to be able to teach them aspects of my culture that I grew up with. It was wonderful to see my Chinese culture being accepted by my fellow peers.
After my time in Hong Kong, I plan to carry on the conversation about my identity as a Chinese-American in my community. I intend to share my experiences in Hong Kong and what I discovered about my identity with my peers in hopes that they can relate to my story and find inspiration to explore different communities of the world as well. I would also like to share my culture with those who are unfamiliar with it.
Alongside sharing my experiences, I want to put more effort into learning more Chinese traditions and parts of my culture that I have yet to explore. From listening to my friends speak Cantonese to tuning into conversations on the streets of Hong Kong, I was able to pick up and recognize more words to add to my Cantonese vocabulary. I wish to learn more of my mother tongue from my parents and also my peers at school. I also hope to expose more students to the vast amount of opportunities that are offered here at UMN so that they can find their own paths to self-reflection and growth. I want to encourage others to step out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in a country that is unfamiliar to them.