Monday, May 21, 2007

AAs on campus making news for their numbers

Here's an article looking at the rise of Asian Americans
in Christian fellowships. This topic seems to have hit
the mainstream media about 10 years ago and continues
to make news.

MTST's Christie Heller de Leon is quoted in it.

Evangelicals build flock on campus At Cal, Christian groups find ...
San Francisco Chronicle - San Francisco,CA,USA
At Cal -- which now has among the highest Asian American attendance in the nation at 43 percent of undergraduates -- InterVarsity was predominantly white ...

Making Right a Wrong or Going Green With a Touch of Rebellion

What would you do if someone in authority told you couldn't do what you knew to be the right thing? Is it better to obey the authority or disobey the authority and do the right thing?

My daughter considered the options and opted for the latter.

She's grown up with computers, cellphones and recycling. The first two have become necessary evils in my world, but recycling has become a practical way for the entire family to care for creation. We started composting last year and recycle everything we can. The schools have recycling bins, and encourage the staff and students to recycle as well.

But when there are special lunch days (when you can order a sub sandwich from a local shop), you are not allowed to carry anything out of the lunchroom unless it's in their lunchbox (which they don't have since they ordered their lunch for special lunch day). So on those days, hundreds of recyclable bottles get tossed away.

Except one bottle. Bethany said she asked the lunchroom monitor if she could carefully carry the bottle to the bathroom to dump it out to recycle in class. She was told she couldn't even though she explained why she wanted to do what she wanted to do. She told me she thought about it and figured it was better to sneak the bottle out the lunchroom and recycle it.

We talked about her taking the issue up with her teachers and principal and finding ways to make special lunch days fun for the kids and better for the earth. We talked about how she felt unheard and dismissed by the lunch monitor. We talked about trying to honor God, and I told her how it's exciting to hear how thoughtful she is about the day-to-day things (we'll ignore the state of her room right now),

But was she right to sneak the bottle out of the room for the sake of going green? What rules have you broken in order to do what you thought was right?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Four Eyes and No Bridge

So where is a girl to get a hip pair of glasses with nose pads?!

My daughter is beautiful - inside and out. She has these crazy dimples that look like we poked her with a pencil and this infectious giggle. She also has great hair that takes a day to dry.

And she was genetically doomed as both Peter and I are nearsighted. She finally failed the school eye exam so we went to get a full exam done having already predicted the end result - glasses.

She tried on half the store's inventory, vogueing every step of the way, and finally picked these very fun pink plastic frames. After about 30 seconds she realized they weren't going to work because they kept sliding down because the frames were designed with some other kind of face in mind.

Undeterred she finally found a cute black and red pair of glasses with nosepads - which after two hours of adjusting still don't sit correctly on her face.

The eyeglass tech person seemed rather annoyed and tried to end things by saying, "Well, she doesn't have much of a bridge now does she?"

Fortunately my filter worked because the thoughts didn't come out of my mouth but simply hung in the air in the invisible thought bubble: "And your point is?"

So, Bethany likes the glasses (and thankfully her nose) but hates that they don't actually fit well. We can't be the only ones. What have you all done to keep myopia from cramping your style?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Just Minding My Own Business

That's what I was doing - just minding my own business one day. I was dropping off some old clothes to the local Goodwill glad to finally get some clutter out of the house and happy to be able to cross another thing off my to do list. I was in my car pulling out of the parking lot when a middle-aged Caucasian woman motions to me that she wants me to stop to say something to me. Curious, I stopped and rolled down my window. She then says rather abruptly, "Yeah, hi, are you the one that's here to open up LA Nails?" Barely a hello, no recognition that she was interrupting me, and no explanation of why she asked what she did.

I was confused and thrown off guard for a moment, my brain was unable to process what it was that she was asking me. I had thought she was about to ask for directions or something and it took me a moment to register what was happening. It dawned on me that she thought that I was there to open up the nail salon.

She thought I was the manicurist.

I imagined how it probably happened - She had come, was disappointed that the shop was not open as it should have been, was about to leave, saw me and thought that she would be able to get her $10 manicure after all. I didn't understand why she would have thought that until I realized that it was because I was Asian American. I told her no and drove away sad that her main concept of an Asian American woman seemed to be limited to someone that does her nails.

It bothered me not because there's shame in working in a nail shop. But rather it bothered me because I felt like I wasn't really there. I am a whole person - with likes and dislikes, connections and relationships to other people, a history and a story. But all she saw was someone that looks like the person who does her nails. I guess that's the sting of a stereotype - it reduces you to such a small silver of who you really are. Like all Asians are good at math. Maybe you are, maybe you aren't. But even so, there's so much more to you than that. When others don't see that or interact with you that way, it just serves as a reminder of how much distance there is left to go.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Resident Alien

I am a resident alien. My port of entry was Seattle, and my family was headed to Philadelphia. Our visit with extended family and friends in Chicago lasted a lifetime. But, I am still not an American.

Initially it was because of a misunderstanding. My parents had mistakenly been told that their application for citizenship would automatically include their child. Instead of citizenship I was issued a green card (which actually isn't green, FYI) and retained Korean citizenship.

But no one knew. Resident aliens aren't green. Resident aliens don't look a certain way, sound a certain way, act a certain way. However, I learned that Americans must look a certain way, sound a certain way because telling people over the years that I was from Chicago rarely sufficed.

Asian American sisters and brothers, you know what I'm talking about, right? It's the "Where are you from" conversation that must include an explanation of where you, your parents, grandparents, etc. are from since "Name your all-American city, town, village" couldn't possibly be the simple answer. Even though I had no recollection of being in Korea (I was 8 months old when I immigrated to the states), America couldn't possibly be my home.

The lesson was reviewed after the VTech massacre. Seung-Hui Cho was identified as a resident alien, an immigrant. He was not American. In very few instances was he even Asian or Korean American. Korean government officials apologized and sent their condolences. Even though Cho had left Korea more than a decade before, he was still Korean. Even though Cho had lived longer in America than he had in Korea, it seemed that America wanted nothing to do with him, his isolation, his darkness.

Well, apparently Pat Buchanan wants others to believe that Cho and my Korean American brothers and sisters are part of an invasion. His op ed piece scares me, angers me, exhausts me:

"Almost no attention has been paid to the fact that Cho Seung-Hui was not an American at all, but an immigrant, an alien. Had this deranged young man who secretly hated us never come here, 32 people would heading home from Blacksburg for summer vacation.
What was Cho doing here? How did he get in?
Cho was among the 864,000 Koreans here as a result of the Immigration Act of 1965, which threw the nation's doors open to the greatest invasion in history, an invasion opposed by a majority of our people. Thirty-six million, almost all from countries whose peoples have never fully assimilated in any Western country, now live in our midst.
Cho was one of them." Pat Buchanan, May 1, 2007

I am one of THEM. I am one of those 864,000 Koreans who have invaded this country.

Days after the shootings, I downloaded the INS application for naturalization. I began to fill it out, and I cried. I've waited years, hoping that South Korea and the US would offer dual citizenship because I am a daughter of both countries. My father strongly recommended I complete the application as soon as possible, but I couldn't. Maybe in the days or weeks to come I will...

I've had lengthy conversations over the years about how our identity as Christ-followers should or should not be qualified by our ethnic or racial identities, how loving Jesus means it does or doesn't matter that we are gendered beings. I am first a Christian, a Christ-follower, a sinner. I am a resident alien to this country and to this world.

But does it matter that I am a Korean American woman?