Becoming a part of a different culture is not as easy as changing one’s clothes – no matter how alluring the real of foreign traditions might seem, it is still a different world with different rules. In her essay “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl”, Elizabeth Wong tells her story of trying desperately to fit in the American culture and shake off the irritating Chinese lifestyle. However, it still seems that rejecting a specific culture in such a fierce way is hardly mature.
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ALTHOUGH WONG’S EXPERIENCE IN CHANGING CULTURES IS WORTH RESPECTING AS A CONSCIOUS DECISION MADE BY A PERSON WHO KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS TO ACHIEVE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH MORE REASONABLE TO FIND A COMPROMISE BETWEEN TWO CULTURES, SHOWING RESPECT TO THE REPRESENTATIVES OF EACH COMMUNITY.
There is the time in every single person’s life when (s)he needs to blend with the rest of the crowd. Thus, one can realize that (s)he is accepted among the rest of the members of society and, therefore, become its integral part.
Otherwise, one can be easily ostracized and turn into an outcast for the rest of the community members to ignore at best and make fun of at worst. From the point of view of the one who is afraid not to be accepted in the community, the ideas of becoming an “all-American girl” expressed in Wang’s article are quite familiar to pretty much every single person.
As Wang explains, “The language was a source of embarrassment” (Wang 23), pointing at the fact that she did not want to stand out among the rest of the members of the American community. An understandable stage of adapting to the new environment, the given emotion can be easily dealt with. Personally, I had a similar experience when I learned that I had to accept the culture of another country along with my native one.
However, the need to be accepted among the members of a foreign society should not be spurred by the hatred of one’s own culture. What follows from Wang’s experience is that she started detesting her own culture when understanding how weak it looked compared to the power of the American traditions.
As Wang put it, as she was ten years old, she had better things to learn than ideographs copied in lines (Wang 24). However, it seems that there is too much denial in Wang’s writing. In my personal experience, I had to accept two cultures at once when I learned that some of my relatives belonged to a different nationality; however, the given fact did not prevent me from learning about both cultures and taking the best from both.
Despite the maturity of Wong’s decision to “divorce” her culture and accept the American one, it is still a hardly reasonable step. Refusing to accept her own culture and blending with the rest of the American population might have resulted in Wong losing a part of her uniqueness.
Since a personality depends greatly on the environment in which it develops, cutting off the links to the Chinese culture meant losing the opportunity to have new experiences. While there may be a lot to hate about a particular culture, most of its ideas have been time-tested, which means tthey are worth at least comparing with the ones of the American culture.
Wong, Elizabeth. “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl.” PARAGRAPHS AND ESSAYS. Ed. Lee Brandon. New York: Houghton Miffin, 2005. 23–24.