Identity Crisis

I hear that Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui was picked on at middle and high school….for his shyness and perhaps accent. While high school is probably most miserable time for everyone…well for most except jocks and popular kids, it was probably his mental state that made everything worse. Watching his video tapes and pictures, I couldn’t help get feeling that he was really disturbed, troubled and just mentally ill.

I came to US when I was 16, starting high school as a sophomore. I tend to place high expectation on myself, and it was another case of it. I should have started as a freshman, but with enough credits brought from Korea, I wanted to graduate in three years. Geez, what a mistake. I mean I knew how to read and write English, but not as close to speaking or understanding spoken English. Not only that I had to adjust to new culture and new ways of life. I ended up staying extra year as senior to ready myself for college, and it was a good thing since I went to an Ivy League school. It is actually interesting that my first choice was Virginia Tech and visited the school in cold, cold winter of 1992. Anyhow, high school was pretty tough for me, too…. A few kids picked on me, but I didn’t think much of it, really. Come to think of it, I don’t remember most of my high school life….

College was much better, in terms of student’s tolerance. Most kids were acceptive of others and different things or culture. I’ve hung out mostly with Asian Americans, most of them 1.5, 2nd or higher generation kids…. Most of them were going through identity crisis. They were immersed in US culture and everything about them except looks says they are Americans (mostly Caucasians). I identified with them. My parents are very Korean, and I sometimes feel invisible wall between them and me. I love them, but since they moved to America in their 40’s, they cannot change their way of lives. Funny thing is that even though I thought they were really Korean, when they visited Korea, they found themselves counting days to come back to US…. They themselves had become 1.5 generation without knowing!

When someone asks me, I always answer Korean American or Korean descendant. I have characteristics of both culture, and that’s who I am. I cannot be completely Korean nor completely American. Unknowingly, my parents also had become Korean American, too.

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