This evening, I’ve been thinking about a bunch of people who are really quite close to my heart: Asians.
Since coming to the UK, I have lost count of the number of times when people have tried to fit me into the Asian stereotype.
“You’re Asian, so you must be really clever. You must have aced all your exams. You must be seriously good at math. You must play the piano. You must have learnt ballet. You must know kung fu. You must work very hard.”
Sadly, I am none of those.
Yes, I know I am a doctor. But let me get this clear- I didn’t become one because of my exceeding intelligence. 99% of it was God’s grace, and only 1% of it hard work (yes, the percentage is that low; I procrastinate and get distracted way too much- I indulge in youtube and facebook in an unhealthy manner, and spend very little time doing things that really matter).
Speaking of stereotypes.
There is no smoke without fire, and I don’t think that some of these generalisations exist without a basis. Without causing any offence to people of other racial origins, it does seem that Asians do generally excel in most things that they set their mind to doing, and they work way harder than anybody else. It is not uncommon to see little Asian kids who are good at their studies, at music, art, and drama all at the same time. 琴，棋，書，畫，樣樣都通！
In Asia, it is the norm for children to be sent to classes of all kinds after school. It may be tuition on Monday, piano class on Tuesday, dance class on Wednesday, tuition again on Thursday, CCA (co-curricular activity- something like the sororities and fraternities in the USA) on Friday, swimming lessons on Saturday and Art classes on Sunday. Asian parents push their children REALLY hard. There is no time for play or for the TV, but there is always time for another class, another lesson, another practice or another rehearsal. Perhaps these parents are trying live their childhood again through their kids, learning all the skills and talents that they themselves never got to develop. Or perhaps they are just trying their best to get their kids ahead in the game, as possession of great talent and skill can only prove useful in the future. Or, if I was to be really cynical about their motives, perhaps these hyper-competitive Asian parents just want to make themselves look good when they come to compare their kid with others.
This leads me to think: is this really healthy? What should childhood really be all about? At this peak time when children absorb and assimilate whatever they are taught best, is it really right to focus their growth and development solely on these measurable skills? How much have we neglected their need for play and the happiness that is derived from it? How much are we preventing our little ones from learning the art of friend-making and toy-sharing? Children are most creative and imaginative when they are playing- how much of this are we stifling by our demands for them to simply focus on learning and practicing something that they find dull and dead? I’m not talking about the child prodigy who is exceedingly talented at something and enjoys pushing himself (or being pushed) to get better at it; I am talking about the regular Asian kid who is not inclined to whatever he is being forced to learn in any way, shape or form, and is struggling as he drags his leaden feet and heavy heart to the next after-school class. I don’t think there is ever going to be a correct answer to this, but I guess it all boils down to one word: balance. And what a difficult balancing act this is.
Anyway, I think I have digressed a little. I wanted to talk about Amazing Asians.
I have mentioned a couple of crazy talented Asian people in my previous posts. First, there is the ukelele-struming, paintbrush flicking, ballad singing b-boy Victor Kim. Then, there is the all acting, all singing, all modelling, all cheerleading, all dancing, all piano & cello playing Arden Cho. And how can I miss out on the man whom I admire most in all of this planet? Wang Lee Hom, singer, song-writer, musician, actor, director, and environmentalist.
There is more! I’m thinking about the latest NBA sensation who has caused a recent phenomenon called Lin-sanity! Jeremy Lin! Not only can he put basketballs through hoops with precision, this Harvard graduate certainly has brains too!
Not to forget, the Asians who rule Youtube: Ryan Higa, Kev Jumba, Dominic Sandoval, Chester See, Jayesslee, Michelle Phan, WONG FU PRODUCTIONS… these people are totally reigning the youtube world with their humour, creativity and talent.
And the Quest crew:
WOW Asians. You’re all so cool.
I’m so proud to be Asian.