Asian American Person's Life Set in a Historical Context Term Paper

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Asian-American Person's Life set in a Historical Context

This paper provides an overview of the life of an Asian-American, set in a historical context. Specifically, the researcher correlates the life experiences of the interviewee, Ping Wang, with the historical information Takaki (1998) and Kurashige and Murray (2002) speak of in their respective works. Through her hard work and dedication, Wang is an ideal example of how many Asian-Americans first struggled after immigrating to the United States. However, Wang's story is also a story of victory, one that demonstrates just how far the Asian-American people have come since the late 1800s.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Asian American Person's Life Set in a Historical Context Assignment

Ping Wang's interview correlates with the historical records related to immigrants migrating to the United States during the 19th century. Mrs. Wang was born in December of 1953. Fortunately, her birth came at a time when many Americans had already begun to fight for civil liberties, although as This paper will later show, the struggle for acceptance and civil liberty for Asian-Americans took some time to achieve. Ping Wang was born in the AnShan Liaoming Province which is located in Northeastern China. Her life per her interview was very "miserable" while living in China. She explained that during her youth, while living in China, her family was economically poor. They often went without milk, eggs, meat and other basic staples necessary to sustain life when one is very young. Much of this was the result of a dictatorship style of government which did not do much to protect or improve the lives of peasants and other people's living in various regions within China (Takaki, 1998). Takaki (1998) and Kurashige and Murray (2002) note one of the primary reasons many Chinese fled to America or other European countries was to escape the dictatorship and poverty-ridden life they faced living within China. During the late 19th century many Chinese people left the country seeking greater opportunities for growth, but also seeking acceptance and the right to live one's life in any manner they see fit (Takaki, 1998).

Ms. Wang also noted her flight from China was during Mao's communist reign, and she considered him a dictator, so no one in the country could have access to the "outside" world, not even a little information was provided, so she lived in virtual seclusion. This correlates with the information Takaki (1998) and Kurashige and Murray (2002) provided. One of the other reasons so many fled to the United States when they could was to obtain freedom from the socialist parties they lived under, and to capture a small piece of what they thought was the "golden egg" or opportunity America had to offer. Ping was no different than many other immigrants looking to provide for her family and create a better life.

Ping wanted to be an engineer, so she left China initially to head to West Germany in 1986. However, around this time many spoke of the United States as the sole place one could go to realize economic freedom and fortune (Kurashige and Murray, 2002). After spending some time in Germany, Mrs. Wang moved to the U.S. during the fall of 1988. Her primary reason for coming to the U.S. was to live a better life, and to have an opportunity to compare life in the United States to life in China. This was especially important because she really didn't have any idea what it was like to live in the U.S. because of the dictatorship that ruled China. Ping concluded initially that life in the United States was far too difficult to live, and had almost given up on the idea she would ever gain her freedom or ability to nurture and support her family. This changed however, as Ping and many other immigrants came to learn the English language and bare children that would help then realize their dreams for liberty and justice for all, as so many Americans proscribe to this sentiment.

Ping was able to come to the U.S. because her husband acquired a visa to study. On arriving, Ping began her studies of the English language first, and then attended Suny Newpaltz as a graduate student. Ping noted it was difficult to live in the United States because of the language barrier she initially had, a common fact that Takaki (1998) comments on in the next section of this review. Ping was initially without a work permit or driver's license, so she and her husband were basically left to function on their own, without much help from anyone else. Ping and her husband originally worked 7 days each week just to survive.

This correlates with comments provided by both Takaki (1998) and Kurashige and Murray (2002). During the 19th century, most Asian-Americans lived segregated lives, and took the lowest jobs they could get among the working class; just to put food on their plates and clothes on their backs (Takaki, 1998). Ping worked as a waitress, a motel maid, and other working class jobs she could apply for and survive on. Because Ping was not able to read or have a full understanding of English, she was not able to perform many of the jobs available from the U.S. Department of Labor. Ping, like many other Asian-Americans, had a difficult time communicating with other American's because they did not understand what it was she was trying to say. Ping in turn could not understand all of English, especially when communication involved listening and speaking comprehension. Fortunately for Ping, she learned much of her current knowledge of English by watching television and the radio, which improved her English comprehension skills. Ping could also rely on her daughters, who were eventually well-versed in the English language.

Takaki (1998) notes Chinese immigrants coming to the United States during the 19th century faced many challenges including language barriers which resulted in much prejudice and racist sentiment from the American people. Takaki suggests this pattern, including the pattern of exploiting Asian-American workers economically, was common with other cultural groups during the 19th century. It was not uncommon for Asian-Americans to become victims of aggressive actions by whites who believed they were superior to their "yellow brothers." Many Asian-Americans felt as though they were not even noticed, that they were not important according to Takaki (1998) and thus lived a life that was quite discreet from the rest of the population.

The 19th century was a time when many immigrants, including the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and other people of Asian descent were victims of cruel behaviors and ridicule. People made fun of them partly because they looked different and partly because their customs were so foreign from the customs most Americans were used to. Unfortunately this caused much distress among the Asian-American population, because many came to the United States to feel welcomed and to take advantage of the "golden" opportunities for a high class life, one an Asian-American rarely enjoyed during this period in American history (Takaki, 1998).

Takaki provides an interesting reference of what it may have been like to be a young white American during the 19th century as immigrants flooded the country at the very start of the book on page 1. Takaki describes an Asian-American's neighbors, who "had names like Hamamoto, Kauhane, Wong and Camara" (Takaki, 1998, 1). The boy also talks of how the accents used by the immigrants were very different, and how the children that were immigrants were of "different color" than he was accustomed to. Takaki provides a key insight right here, at the very beginning, that sets the stage for the rest of the analogy by noting the comments of this young character, who said: "I did not know why families representing such an array of nationalities from different shores were living together, sharing their cultures and a common language" (Takaki, 1998, 1).

The culture of the 19th century of America was very different from the Asian culture, one point that is highlighted in this sentence. The subject talks of the "pidgin English" which is a "combination of English, Japanese and Hawaiian," common among many immigrants regardless of how long they had been in the country. Despite this boy's diversity and the fact that he had lived in America for over 3 generations classmates in college refer to him as a foreigner. His comments suggest the Asian tradition of having all members of their family, including grandparents and great grandparents, living in one home rather than many, something that varied much from traditional white American culture. And as with anything, something that differs from the "majority" is likely to be scrutinized to the fullest extent possible. The Asian-American immigrants were no different in this regard. Many had to struggle as "minorities" looking for opportunities in a country that initially was not ready to offer.

There was during this time in history very little discussion of "diversity" especially in schools which seems surprising given the number of immigrants coming into the country. One would think this situation of diversity represented the very foundation of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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