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Defeating the Model Minority Stereotype
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by Alex Pelfrey, Cuesta Park,
on Oct 18, 2009
My name is Alex Pelfrey, I am twenty years old, I have lived in California for those twenty years and I admit that I am an ignorant citizen of this country. I say this because all my life I have been content to just go on with my life without taking into account all of the individuals of different cultures around and to accept stereotypes that various cultural communities have been branded with. All around me are individuals ho for whatever the reason may be, came to the United States to look for opportunity and in their quest they have struggled. It is hard to think about how a citizen like me who has just sat around, could have helped that new member of the American community feel welcome and give them a sense of belonging. I am a student of Santa Clara University and for my introductory class to journalism in which I am writing about an assigned cultural community. In this article I am writing about the Asian American community and how I feel that Asian Americans get labeled as the “Model Minority” and that people fail to realize that they suffer the same issues that most immigrants suffer when coming to this country. In recent times I have chosen to make an exodus from my high chair of ignorance and reach out to the community and lend my help to the best of my ability. Asian Americans generally do not face many difficulties when coming to this country but the reality is that new Asian Americans in this country suffer major integration issues which affect healthcare, education, employment, and the language barrier. The more these new Asian Americans in our society suffer with these factors, the more they will struggle to live and adapt to in the United States. A journal entry I read written by Molly Nance titled “Combating the Model Minority Stereotype” discussed how Fifty faculty members of various California Universities are conducting research on how Asian American immigrants suffer coming to the United States and gives us a s a society grounds where we can help. According to the journal entry, “The research program has already gathered data showing that less than 13 percent of Asian Americans live at or below the poverty line, but as many as 40 percent of Southeast Asian populations - including Cambodians, Hmong and Laotians - live in poverty.” This can be clearly summarized as a complete failure to adapt to American society which immediately makes me feel that what if I and my fellow citizens of this society could help in any way possible through various programs that could be set up for Asian American immigrants. I interviewed a San Jose Asian American named Paul who has been a resident in the United States for 10 years now; I asked him if he felt it was difficult for Asian American immigrants to integrate themselves in this different culture? He responded “I think most people come here they have to make a living so they tend to put some other things into second priority but in the long run understanding people will be beneficial for pretty much everyone in the neighborhood therefore I believe if there is anything that can be done at a community level or at a school those are all the good things to be done.” Asian American Immigrants to come here with the ultimate goal of being able to make a living to build a sustainable life and I agree understanding people helps bring the community together and when we all come together we work harder to make the world a better place. At Santa Clara University we have an Arrupe program which gives the chance for students to participate in various community services in the area. I volunteered at John XXIII Multi-Service Center and did their Brown Bag program where I packed food for mainly impoverished Asian American families. I was amazed to see that all the regular volunteers were fellow elderly Asian American individuals and it opened my eyes to how there were no other cultural communities or varying age groups to volunteer. These were people who came to this country and ended up not so lucky and faced the harshness of poverty. If this charity had more recognition more people would volunteer and more would donate increasing the helping hand that I feel many Asian American families do not have. I hope that I can continue to be more active in the community I believe in being aware and helping others to enhance not only our local communities but in the end our country as a whole.