Have you ever had those classes that make it seem like the information is coming at you like a crazy avalanche but at the same time, it doesn’t scare you? Yes, you feel the information and concepts coming at you at 100mph and you’re vaguely aware that you’re going to be buried under mounds of knowledge, but rather than being worried, it excites you because you know that when you dig your way out and master the things that once overwhelmed you, you know that you’ll be stronger and more ready for what’s next.
This semester I’m taking a course called ‘The Pleasure and Pain of Traveling’ but it should have been named ‘Diaspora and It’s Children’. Every class stretches my mind and the time flies by so quickly in our discussions digging about concepts of identity, culture, the past, history, and the importance of writing and perspective. It’s the first class where everyone is fully involved and wanting to actively participate. Every classmate had brilliant input and there was never an awkward moment where the professor stared at us begging for someone to speak up. If anything, she often had to cut our conversation short because class time ran out.
What’s the most interesting for the course, though, is that I feel like in a way, I’m studying myself. I am a diaspora, a second generation American since both my parents immigrated to America from Korea. A lot of the concepts and struggles the authors discuss I can fully relate to. It’s amazing how these extremely articulate writers can sum up my inner battles so concisely. But what’s curious is that no one else in my class can relate to the authors as I can. I’m the only Asian in my class; everyone else is a standard Caucasian American. So a lot of times in our discussion, the students talk from a neutral perspective because they don’t understand and can’t fully comprehend what the immigrant authors talk about, whereas for me I can easily draw connections or examples from my own life.
The authors for this class are all immigrants from Africa, India, or the Caribbean. I can still relate deeply with their struggles of identity, but reading their works made me curious about works from Asian Americans/Asian diaspora in Western countries. It’s understandable that there’s a class dedicated to diaspora in the mentioned countries because in comparison, Asian diaspora is more recent and in its height today. But still, the experiences and stories of our diaspora should still be heard. Yes, we have our common experiences, but we still have our differences. It made me wonder, how many pieces and voices are out there talking about the Asian American experience? About the whole ‘model minority’ issue?
And what can I offer? Can I, should I speak up about diaspora as well, even though I didn’t immigrate myself? Where do I stand as being raised in a mixture of American and Korean values? Where do second generation people like me stand in the overarching painting of diaspora? Where do we stand in relation to Korea, our heritage? Should Korea be familiar or foreign, or can it be allowed to be a delightful confusing mix of both?
I’m thinking of turning the English class to an Honors course, in which I can then work with the professor on my own project. I hope to further pursue the questions I addressed above and apply the concepts we learned in class to the different experience of Asian Americans.
This was a rambling post, sorry guys haha. I’ve had lots to digest over the past couple of days and so here’s a snippet of the thoughts that have been floating around and crystallizing in my mind.
It doesn’t help that in a way I’m scared of writing. Scared?- Is that too strong of a word perhaps?- I have ideas but I know that sitting down to pump out a post requires me to seriously stop, think, and organize my thoughts. Which, I don’t mind doing but I know that it stretches me and takes up time which I have been hesitant to do (although i have time).
But even now, after writing this post, it does feel better writing about the clouds of thought occupying my mind. I’ll try to do this more often and push against my instinctive procrastinating nature to stretch myself. After all, it’s always better to write more and think more than less, is it not?-
*PS: WHOA okay so apparently this is also my 200th post! (SAY WAAAAAHT). (okay wow, sorry I totally ruined the mood of this post)
But! This is a good milestone for me and I feel like the nature of this post is appropriate for this event. Wow, 200 posts. Hopefully from now the posts will dig deeper and be more thoughtful like this was.
Thank you for all my readers for tagging along and reading my material 🙂 *