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Conference:Viewpoint: Year of the Tiger: Growing up Asian in America
The following transcript was recorded on

Friday, 20th February, 1998

with Ivy Chen


©1997-2017 Electric Eggplant




Log file opened at: 2/20/98 16:33:00

VenusCCC: o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

VenusCCC: Welcome to TheInSite as we present

VenusCCC: Viewpoint

VenusCCC: .

VenusCCC: Our guest tonight is Ivy Chen

VenusCCC: .

VenusCCC: Ivy is here to talk to us about:

VenusCCC: Year of the Tiger: Growing up Asian in America

VenusCCC: .

VenusCCC: Please feel free to type a ? if you would like

VenusCCC: to ask Ivy a question - you will be added to

VenusCCC: the question list. :-)

VenusCCC: o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

VenusCCC: .

VenusCCC: Ivy- it's good to see you. :-) Would you like to take a moment to introduce yourself?

Ivy2: Sure, thanks for having me here today!

VenusCCC: It's always a pleasure, Ivy :-)

Ivy2: I was born in Hong Kong 24 years ago, and I have been in America since I was 7. I am now a sexual & reproductive health educator for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate

VenusCCC: (Ivy is one of our coordinators for the Planned Parenthood conference we have here... so that may be why she looks familiar to some of you! :-)

VenusCCC: Ivy .. wow.. you lived in Hong Kong for seven years? I envy you! What was it like?

Ivy2: Hong Kong is a very crowded, polluted, and busy place. It's a very hectic lifestyle, everyone lives in apartments. When I first moved to America. I was the only non-white in my class for a few years and I was the only Asian in my class till high school.

VenusCCC: Oooh that must have been hard

West: Venus, growing up Asian in America, been there, done that and still doing it

Ivy2: I guess it's because I went to a small Catholic school.

VenusCCC: Hmm.. I didn't think Catholicism was a big religion in Asia, Ivy

Ivy2: Why don't you share your experience too West?

VenusCCC: West - well, why don't you jump in with your experience... er, yeah, what Ivy said :-)

West: Ivy2, well okay.

Ivy2: Actually it's pretty common for Asian families to send their kids to Catholic schools for the education

MaMaBeffie: What language do people speak in hong kong and do you still speak it here in america?

Ivy2: not for the religious aspect.

West: I was born here in the states... (Fresno) about 21 years ago

VenusCCC: oh, Ivy? Hmm.. are they considered good schools?

Ivy2: We speak Chinese in Hong Kong, a dialect called Cantonese.

tc: Ivy2, are you chinese?

Ivy2: But ever since China got HK back in July, kids have been learning Mandarin, the mainland's language , in school.

West: Venus, are you Asian?

VenusCCC: Nope, West

Ivy2: tc, yes, I'm Chinese, can you guess from my last name?

VenusCCC: heheh Ivy

Ivy2: We just got through with Chinese New Year, this past week

VenusCCC: Yes.. it's year of the Tiger, isn't it, Ivy?

Ivy2: it's the year of the tiger, my year, the year of the cow, just ended.

VenusCCC Is Year of the Dragon (which means I just dated myself.. sigh). Ivy, what exactly do the different years signify?

tc: Co/ ai ngu?o?i vietnam o? dda^y kho^ng????????/

Ivy2: The people born in the year of a certain animal are supposed to embody the qualities of that animal.

West: tc, I take it you are Vietnamese

VenusCCC: Oh, so it works kind of like the astrological signs ?

Ivy2: For example, tigers are supposed to be good leaders and forceful Myself- I'm a cow. I'm supposed to be placid, yet stubborn, and yes, it does work like astrological signs.

tc: Are you Vietnamese west?

West: TC, Yes I am, but I can't speak or read Vietnamese really well.

VenusCCC: lol Ivy!! Placid and stubborn, I like that

VenusCCC: I've always found it odd that those are almost accurate ... :-)

VenusCCC: Ivy ... did you have to make many adjustments when moving to the States?

Ivy2: I guess one of the potentially difficult aspects about coming from a strict one-cultured family is dating people of different races. When I first moved here, I didn't really know any English, and I guess that was the biggest adjustment I had to make.

VenusCCC: oh, that must have been difficult, Ivy - especially since you were the only Asian girl in your class

Ivy2: Yea, I hate it when people think that if they spoke louder and slower, that makes you understand them better.

VenusCCC: heheh Ivy .. that seems to be the method of approach no matter what the language

VenusCCC: Ivy, you mentioned dating. Was that a big obstacle for you?

Ivy2: Funny you should mention that My first boyfriend was Mexican and we met in high school, my mom gave us a bit of a problem but mainly because it was the first relationship my family had to deal with. Right now, I'm dating an Indian man and his family is having major issues with us being together.

VenusCCC: Oh I can imagine, Ivy!

Ivy2: They're basically making him choose between them and me, he can get disowned for this.

VenusCCC: Especially if they are very traditional Indian family .. which it sounds like they are

Ivy2: I think that many first generation kids are dealing with this same issue, because their parents have these expectations from their homeland, but the kids are basically American.

VenusCCC: Ivy - did you experience a culture clash besides dating?

Ivy2: I think that I'm pretty lucky, because I'm in the SF bay area and the people here are very diverse so I don't get looked at or anything. But I've also been to Texas and Virginia and other states where people do stare.

tears: Ivy2. I live in Texas and i'm part chinese. I never noticed staring. I think more people notice your personality, not your appearance

Ivy2: tears, I think that you're lucky.

VenusCCC: lol Ivy, yes. My aunt is Vietnamese. She did not have a great time going back to meet the inlaws (in Tennessee)

VenusCCC: Piera - you had a question for Ivy?

PieraTIS: Yes I wanted to know if she has dealt with a lot of racism?

Ivy2: Because of where I live, I think that I have not dealt with a lot of outright racism. but I was in Virginia, I mentioned how I liked driving Japanese cars (vs. American made, ) and I got some dirty looks. I guess when people think of racism , they think of discrimination from the mainstream Caucasians

Mojo9: Hello ivy, I'm asian too

tears: Ivy2, I grew up on a border town in texas. All of my friends were hispanic. I've dealt with racism of all kinds

VenusCCC: Wow Ivy ... I can imagine they weren't thinking nice thoughts :-/

tears: Ivy, I disagree. It's the mainstream of the area

Coookie waves to VenusCCC

VenusCCC: Heya Coookie ;-)

Ivy2: but right now, I'm getting a lot bigotry from my boyfriend's parents, because I'm not Indian.

VenusCCC: Ivy ... yeah... I think people forget to think of racism as ANY bigoted reaction against someone based on their color

Ivy2: That's right, there's racism among members of Asian groups too.

Mojo9: What part of asia ?

VenusCCC was one of 4 white kids when she was in high school ... and she faced a lot of racism

Mojo9: I'm from the Philippines

Ivy2: ACTION, what were the other kids?

Katie1: I got a lot of crap from people for being Puerto Rican, and I've lived here all my life

VenusCCC: Ivy, actually yes, I have noticed that. I had a Vietnamese friend whose (very) domineering brother wouldn't let her talk to guys who weren't Vietnamese. He didn't want to "pollute" the blood line

PieraTIS: Racism I believe is a hard issue to be dealt when new to a different place or country or if you are culturally diverse

VenusCCC: Ivy - most of the kids where Asian, Mexican, and African American - but there were more Native American students than white :-)

Ivy2: The whole polluting idea is very prevalent in Asian groups

West: Venus., I never had that problem with my siblings about dating other races.

Ivy2: West, you are so lucky, my boyfriend's whole family isn't speaking to him right now. Can you imagine having to choose between your family or the person that you love?

VenusCCC: Great, West - this family had moved from Vietnam when she was young (about 6) and her brother was 9. They had very strict cultural expectations. She wasn't allowed to even eat the "dirty American food"

VenusCCC: not at all, Ivy ! ..

AMIGOS-5: Anybody know about deafness?

VenusCCC: Amigo, there is a chat for deaf folks and their friends. It's called #DeafZone , I believe :-)

KAS: I have had to do that Ivy2- it is no fun

West: I'm happy and glad my parents have raised us to be more flexible in America.

VenusCCC: It's hard for me (who grew up mainly in the Bay Area) to understand how anyone could discriminate based on what part of the world you come from

Ivy2: I think my boyfriend's parents watch too many daytime talk shows, because they think Americans have no morals!

VenusCCC: lol! Yes! We have lovely representation with other cultures

KAS: We don't have morals.

Ivy2: not on Jerry Springer, you don't.

West: Venus, you could say we are more Americanized than your typical Asian family

KAS: That is all made up

VenusCCC: oh I love Jerry Springer. It gives such GREAT impressions ..

VenusCCC: Ivy, speaking of...

Ivy2: My mom is totally cool with my relationship, and you know it's not even just dating. It's about parents loving you for who you are, unconditional love.

No1Odo: most americans don't

VenusCCC: As I mentioned, my aunt is Vietnamese. She faced a lot of prejudice from her family when she married my uncle. They moved over from Vietnam AFTER the war, and several family members had been involved

Ivy2:because I have a friend who is been dissed by his parents because he doesn't want to be a doctor.

VenusCCC: Is it common for Asian groups (especially those who have been directly involved in a war) to have very negative views of Americans?

West: Venus, how do you feel about your aunt? The relationship between the two of you?

Ivy2: I think that they think the country and the opportunities are great but that Americans are lazy in general (a huge generalization, of course).

Ivy2: I think for a lot of Asian culture, there is no concept of the individual. It's how you represent the family. I think they care a lot about how they look to the community, not necessarily how happy they are.

VenusCCC: West, Jos is fun to be around. I don't talk to them much, but that is more their choice than mine (and a family thing on our part), but her race has never entered my mind, except that she has gorgeous eyes :-)

West: Ivy2, I'm curious. Did your parents expect a lot out of you- from being a traditional Asian girl to becoming a doctor when you grew up?

Ivy2: Yes, several of my cousins are in med-school, or in finance or some other regular high- money paying job, so you can imagine what my parents think when I told them that I want to teach sex education for a living - what would my parents' friends say.

VenusCCC: lol Ivy!

Ivy2: It's always something, either who you're dating, or what you decide to do with you career, or what sexual orientation you are.

gidget99: Ivy, what is your asian back ground exactly?

VenusCCC: The concept of "face" has been one that you see portrayed in a lot of movies, Ivy - is this actually a true stereotype- that how you look is most important?

West: Ivy, they would say a lot. You know Asian parents love to gossip.

Ivy2: I have a Asian friend who had the worst time telling his parents he's gay.

Ivy2: I remember, at Christmas parties, when my parents' friends would compare their kids GPA's and SAT's scores.

Ivy2: What a way to have fun!.

West: Especially about their kids and other Asian kids.

VenusCCC: oh geeez, Ivy. That must have been a LOT of pressure

Ivy2: But to their credit, many Asian parents are very very involved in their kids' school life, and that's good.

PieraTIS: Great to see you, courier. Welcome to #TheInSite

Ivy2: but some are also very controlling.

West: Ivy.. I think the only bad thing I could say about my parents is the constant comparing of yourself to other Asian families.

VenusCCC: Ivy - having been there, and are facing it with your boyfriends family .. what advice would you give first generation kids?

Ivy2: I know exactly what you mean West. Keep communication and expectations open with your family.

Ivy2: Dating and sex is something that a lot of Asian families don't talk about at home.

VenusCCC: I imagine you would see the consequences of that somewhat

Ivy2: I have a lot of Asian friends who date, but keep it a secret from their parents. I've also seen pregnant Asian teens (yes, we do it too). Enough of the model minority myth.

VenusCCC: that has GOT to be stressful, Ivy (dating behind backs)

Ivy2: Yea, and look what happens when parents do find out. You get the ultimatum - not uncommon.

VenusCCC: Which would be "them or me" Ivy? (as the ultimatum)

Ivy2: Right Venus. Consider my boyfriend. What his parents don't realize is that he needs both the family and his girlfriend in his life and he has a different kind of love for both. But they have made it into a test of loyalty.

Ivy2: I think his family sees me as a threat to the family, to his culture, diluting the blood, etc.

VenusCCC: That seems to be a very big important thing to a lot of cultures, ivy - purity of blood

Ivy2: I truly do understand how they feel, but they have to realize that when they move to America, they have to be more flexible, things aren't done like the homeland.

West: Ivy, do you have siblings?

Ivy2: West, I have a younger sister.

West: Ivy, not too mention the Asian gangs.

MaMaBeffie: what language does your family speak at home primarily?? (if this hasn't already been asked)

Ivy2: Beffie, I speak both at home, My family understands both. And sometimes in the same sentence, I put in both languages (like Spanglis)

MaMaBeffie: I see

VenusCCC: heheh Ivy. I do that. It gets some odd looks when she speaks one sentence using english dutch and french

PieraTIS: lol Venus

Ivy2: That's assimilation for you.

West: Ivy2, I'm curious. With only you two, are your parents more strict with you than your sister- in terms of going out, spending time with friends?

Ivy2: I was the older kid, that is the guinea pig, so they started out by being more strict with me, but I guess that 's pretty common in all families.

VenusCCC: lol Ivy .. I was going to say... that sounds pretty identical so far

West: Ivy... you see I have an older sister, but my parents are far more strict with her than they are with me. For the most part, I could pretty much go out any time just as long as I tell them where I am versus my sister getting approval before she could go out.

Ivy2: West, that's very common too. I have friends who complain that their parents are sexist, letting boys have more freedom.

West: Ivy, isn't it great to be a boy (j/k)!

VenusCCC: Ivy - do you think that immigrant families find the loss of their culture for another one hard to deal with? And why do you think they expect that their culture will continue when they move to a new one?

Ivy2: Great question Venus! I think that immigrant families think of the positive aspects of America, like career opportunities and educational opportunities, but they don't think that their kids will be part American, and will lose some of their native cultures.

MaMaBeffie: West my parents are same way with me and my brother. Its because I am girl and he is a boy. *grrrr*

Ivy2: I think it's devastating when parents realize that they and their kids don't have too much in common because of the drastically different environments that each grew up in, and sometimes there's a language barrier too.

MaMaBeffie: Ivy2 I agree.

VenusCCC: That seems like such a simple concept to me, Ivy, but I suppose that that merely reflects my American thinking... where immigrant families are thinking in their culture, their thinking will naturally prevail

Ivy2: They assume a lot and they don't speak openly about their expectations, and when they do express their expectations, it's often less inviting than the American alternative.

Ivy2: For example, some of my Indian girl-friends are fighting arranged marriages with their parents.

buck3: Heavy stuff Ivy2

VenusCCC: I honestly can't imagine myself living in some cultures, Ivy - they seem so repressed

VenusCCC: How is it going for them, Ivy?

Ivy2: I think that America is one of the most egalitarian societies.

Drako: Define egalitarian, and in what context?

Ivy2: Drako, I mean equal opportunities for both sexes (and races too)

Drako: Ivy, are there "really" equal opportunities?

Ivy2: Drako, more so here than elsewhere.

Drako: I agree, but to say "equal" is over-exaggerated.

buck3: Ivy2, I lived in japan for 4 years and never really got it. Why are women so repressed

Ivy2: buck3, that's a good question. Repression keeps people in control. That's why foot-binding was invented in China, to keep women from being mobile and possibly cheating on them.

VenusCCC: Control is a big factor in many cultures

West: Buck, nihongo ga wakarimasu ka?

VenusCCC: Ivy, we're just about out of time. Do you have any closing comments?

Ivy2: This was a good open forum and I had a great time expressing my opinions and hearing others!

VenusCCC: It was great having you here, Ivy!

VenusCCC: ... let's give our guest a big round of applause!

VenusCCC: Thank you for being here today, Ivy!

Drako: so, what is the take home message for the topic?

Ivy2: The take-home message is keep an open mind.

Ivy2: Thanks for having me!

MaMaBeffie: *clap* *clap* *clap*

VenusCCC: Come back next week folks.. we have a mystery guest - not even I know who it is!

MaMaBeffie: [email protected]!

clemaTIS: lol VenusCCC

VenusCCC: And stick around for GalaxCCC and clemaTIS, as they bring you more TheInSite programming ;-)

Log file closed at: 2/20/98 17:32:12

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