My year of traveling throughout Asia has left an incredible mark in my life! I’ve experienced so much, both good and bad, but I learned something new from each and every day. Looking back on my time in Asia, my photos and blog posts reveal just what a great year 2010 really was for me.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been easy. I’m afraid that being an Asian-American traveling in Asia was no easy feat for me. I’ve been bottling up these feelings, experiences and observations up for some time now but I’ve come to realize that it’s given me a very unique travel perspective on people, culture, prejudices and social interaction that I should share with others.
I’ve decided to start a series of blogs called “Banana Split” to delve deeper into my experiences as an Asian-American, as an Asian-American traveling the world, and particularly as an Asian-American traveling in Asia.
I hope you enjoy my version of “Banana Split”!
I’m pretty proud of my heritage. My mother is Chinese, my father is Burmese. I was born in Burma but moved to California when I was just over a year old. I’ve lived in America most of my life and I’m as “American as apple pie.” I can speak passable Cantonese and Burmese, with a piddling of Mandarin though all with a slight American accent. I’m what some people might call a “Banana”: yellow on the outside but white on the inside.
|Baby Connie sitting inside a pagoda in Yangon, Burma|
As a child, I wasn’t so proud of my heritage. I was one of the few Asians in my elementary school (my two cousins made up the rest of the Asian population). I got taunted for my “chinky” eyes and home-made bowl-shaped haircuts. At the time, it felt like a slow, tortured death.
|The bane of my childhood existence: the bowl-shaped haircut (with my cousin Jeremy)|
Growing up, cultures would often clash between my traditional Asian family and my American lifestyle. I wanted to be able to do all the things my American friends were allowed to do, such as stay out late with friends or date boys. I was always in trouble because I refused to be the typical Chinese daughter. Needless to say, I was quite rebellious in my teens and fought off my Asian-ness to show my mother just how “Chinese” I really was.
My parents always said to me, “You think you’re American but you’re not! You’re a Chinese girl!” Somehow the Burmese half was always left out…
It’s been a difficult process coming to terms and finding my place in the world with my Asian heritage and cultural upbringing while living and growing up in America and I think I’ve done well with it so far.
Then, 2010 happened. Traveling as an Asian-American in Asia has called my identity into question a number of times over the year. I struggled with it, became frustrated with it and now, I’ve decided to write about it! To be continued…
I know not all my readers are Asian-Americans but do you think it’s a worthwhile topic to explore? Are YOU interested in this unique travel and cultural perspective?
© Connie Hum 2011