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American Born Chinese’s Cultural Dilemma Research Paper


Introduction

During the 19th century, many Asians migrated to America. The Asians who migrated include Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Philippines, Vietnamese, and Koreans. While some Asians migrated in search of lucrative business opportunities and studies, others migrated with the objective of residing in America. Asians who managed to reside in America started Asian communities in their quest to sustain Asian lifestyles and cultures.

Some of the popular Asian communities include China towns that individuals from China started, as they constitute the largest Asian population in America. However, with time, many Chinese individuals slowly adopted foreign or western cultures and lifestyles and left their native cultures. Cultural change mostly affected the young generation of Chinese because they were born and raised in America.

The American born Chinese go through cultural and social challenges as they attempt to adopt American culture and at the same time maintain Chinese culture. Therefore, the focus of the research is to assess the cultural dilemma that the American born Chinese (ABCs) face in America.

Method

The researcher chose schools and places of residence in Los Angeles and selected sites such as East Los Angeles College, West Side Chinese Language School, and a few homes of ABCs. Respondents to the research included parents of ABCs who have children in West Side Chinese Language School, teachers of the language school, international, American, and Chinese students. The research employed participant observation and interview schedules to collect information from the respondents.

The researcher collected information from 5 parents, 10 international American students, 7 teachers from West Side Chinese Language School, and 10 Chinese international students. The research used interview schedules to collect information from the respondents. The process of data collection entailed the administration of open-ended questions to willing respondents.

In the process of data collection, the research experienced challenges because some students were reluctant to answer research questions, while some teachers and students had busy schedules. However, the researcher managed to overcome these challenges by interviewing the respondents who were willing and making appointments with the teachers.

Presentation

Culture

The respondents highlighted that American culture is very different from Chinese culture. According to the respondents, while the Chinese are conservative, the Americans are liberal and not subject to any cultural beliefs or practices. Additionally, the researcher observed that the Chinese still believe and follow the doctrines of Buddhism as opposed to the Americans who do not have any common cultural orientation.

Respondents noted that the American culture is cosmopolitan because it incorporates cultures and norms of diverse cultures across the world. The researcher observed that Chinese parents and grandparents uphold strong cultural practices and traditions whereas the young American born Chinese have liberal values and beliefs. This is due to the exposure of America born Chinese to the American cultures, which are very different from their native and traditional cultures.

According to the respondents, while Chinese elders and parents believe in the traditions and practices, the American born Chinese no longer respect these practices. On the contrary, they have adopted the American cultures that are liberal and democratic. However, since the American born Chinese live in Chinese communities such as China towns, they end up learning both the American and Chinese cultures.

Many respondents highlighted that this makes the American born Chinese to possess bicultural behaviors of their Chinese parents and American cultures. The cultural dilemma confuses American born Chinese. The American born Chinese have to resolve the cultural dilemma as they are trying to adopt American cultures that they encounter at school and other social places, as well as abide by their native Chinese cultures at home.

Family and Kinship

The researcher observed that the Chinese still respect and value ties that bind the family together. From the respondents, the researcher observed that the Chinese respect and value all members of the extended family. The Chinese families often live together and share responsibilities as one large family. Additionally, it is apparent that different members of the Chinese families receive and accord respect to their immediate relatives.

The researcher found that the situation is different in America. In the findings, many Americans do not respect and value family and kinship ties. In America, many individuals do not extend their family ties beyond the nuclear or single-parent family. Therefore, American family structures create a form of cultural confusion that affects the young Chinese who were born and raised in America.

According to the respondents, the American born Chinese go through difficult periods while trying to understand their norms of family associations and kinship ties, as well as the western norms of segregated family structure. International Chinese students also noted that parents require them to know their lineages and all the members of their extended families in America and China.

The respondents asserted that in the American communities, the Americans only value and respect their immediate family members like brothers, parents, and first cousins. From the findings, many international American students were not in a position to identify members of their extended families, who are beyond the first and second generations.

The difference in family structures between the Americans and Chinese communities makes it challenging for the American born Chinese to adopt American culture and interact with Americans. Overall, cultural diversity limits interaction and association of American born Chinese with their native Chinese and Americans.

Social Lifestyles

From the findings, the lifestyles of people living in America are unique. According to the respondents, the Americans depict isolated lifestyles. In America, most people are busy as they work for many hours during the week, and they rest only once a week. Additionally, most of the Americans like living in urban areas because of the nature of civilization. The researcher observed that a person in America lives a materialistic and luxurious life.

However, most of the Americans no longer uphold ethical values, and thus, they live unique and complicated lifestyles. According to the respondents, gay marriage and divorce are common in America. The researcher found out that many Chinese parents believe that gay marriage and divorce are unethical, and so they perceive marriage as an important social entity that comprises of a union between a man and a woman.

The researcher identified that many American born Chinese are in the dilemma of adopting American lifestyles or retaining their Chinese lifestyles. Since many Chinese parents believe that American youth no longer uphold ethical and moral values, they discourage their children from adopting any values from the society but instead behave as per their lifestyles. Additionally, the research found out that the American born Chinese believe that western culture is good as it gives them the liberty to engage in what they love.

The young Chinese who were born in America think that their native lifestyles are no longer in line with the modern age. From the findings, Chinese students stated that they do not like or value their native lifestyles, and therefore, they prefer western lifestyles. The lifestyle change portrayed by the Chinese who are born in American creates conflicts in among Chinese families because Chinese parents consider American lifestyles as immoral or unethical.

Racial Discrimination

In America, the level of racial discrimination and ethnicity is low. From the research, discrimination takes place when Americans exploit Chinese living in America. The Chinese parents highlighted that although they have been in America for a long time, they are still experiencing some forms of racial discrimination from their American colleagues.

According to the research, the Chinese students confessed to having experienced some forms of racial discrimination from Native Americans in school and social places. The Chinese members point out that racial discrimination is a problem that affects them as it makes them feel excluded by the dominant Americans.

Language

The researcher also observed that American born Chinese do not understand their mother tongue clearly. According to the teachers in West Side Chinese Language School, many Chinese parents bring the children to the institution so that they can learn their mother tongue. The respondents attributed this to the effect of the society, which is composed of mainly the English-speaking people.

From the findings, the Chinese parents stated that the setting that their children grow and learn makes them vulnerable to foreign languages. Since most of the American born Chinese grow up and school in America, they find it easy to learn a foreign language spoken by many Americans, as opposed to their native language, the Chinese.

Furthermore, the system of education in America is very different from that in China. The difference ranges from language to alphabets. This further complicates the challenge that the American born Chinese face as they grow up in American society.

Religion

According to the respondents, Americans have different opinions and perspectives concerning religion. Essentially, America has pronounced freedom of worship, and therefore, its citizens are free to worship in a religion of their choice. The cosmopolitan nature of America makes it have many religions according to diverse religious orientations of Americans. From the findings, it was found out that the Americans are not subject to any religious belief, as they have freedom of worship.

Therefore, they do not strictly adhere to the provisions of any given religion. However, the Chinese communities have many religions, and they believe in their doctrines. From the findings, the parents who have their children in West Side Chinese Language School believe that their religion is important and that their children should stick to the rules provided by the religion.

The existence of many religions poses a dilemma to the American born Chinese since their parents believe in religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, while Americans are predominantly Christians, followed by Muslims. According to the research, the American born Chinese find it hard to choose a religion among diverse religions that surrounds them.

Some of the respondents from the Chinese community highlighted the confusion they experience in choosing a religion from the many religions that are present in America, and the fact that many Americans do not follow any religious orientation strictly.

The Chinese state that their children are unable to make informed choices regarding the choice of a religion because they are still very young. Since many Americans do not follow religious doctrines seriously, Chinese parents discourage their children from following immoral behaviors that are prevalent in society.

Interpretation

Culture and Family

From the research, there is an indication that most of the American born Chinese no longer respect and follow their traditional beliefs and practices. It is evident that many members of the younger generation no longer follow cultural beliefs like their parents. On the contrary, American born Chinese are adopting western cultures because of societal pressure. The presence of Chinese communities in their places of residence still helps them retain some native practices; hence, they end up living bicultural lifestyles.

Another challenge faced by the American born Chinese is the difference between family structures in America and Chinese communities. As opposed to Chinese, who live together in large extended families that make up a community, many Americans live in nuclear or single-parent families. The existing difference in family structures affects the young generation of Chinese because while their parents struggle to sustain morals and family structures, the young generation performs the opposite.

Lifestyle, Language, and Religion

From the study, it is clear that there is a cultural discrepancy between American born Chinese and their parents. The American born Chinese are slowly abandoning their native cultures, while gradually adopting the western cultures. The social lifestyles depicted by the Americans put pressure on the young generation of Chinese and compel them to adjust their moral values so that they can fit into the dynamic society.

Apart from the challenge of adopting western lifestyles, the young Chinese who were born in America are slowly forgetting their mother tongue. The findings demonstrate that many parents are taking their children to schools that train the Chinese language so that they can learn their mother tongue. Since there are many religions in America, the American born Chinese are unable to choose that go well with their beliefs.

Conclusion

The research has effectively discussed the challenges faced by the American born Chinese, commonly known as the ABCs. It has also presented various aspects of challenges that the American born Chinese encounter. Hence, it is evident from the research that the young generation of Chinese drift away gradually from the culture of their parents while they succumb to the pressure from society.

The research brought to fore the challenge of abandonment that parents and native Chinese are facing from the American born Chinese, as well as the attitudes that the young generation possess concerning the Chinese and American lifestyles.

From the research, it is clear that most of the American born Chinese display bicultural lifestyles as they live in Chinese communities and study in American schools. The cultural dilemma makes them engage in bicultural lifestyles, which complicate their lifestyles.

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1. IvyPanda. "American Born Chinese's Cultural Dilemma." May 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-born-chineses-cultural-dilemma/.


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IvyPanda. "American Born Chinese's Cultural Dilemma." May 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-born-chineses-cultural-dilemma/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "American Born Chinese's Cultural Dilemma." May 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-born-chineses-cultural-dilemma/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'American Born Chinese's Cultural Dilemma'. 8 May.

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