Chinese American Cultural Clashes
The Lotus and the Rose
In the 20th Century, Asian immigration to the United States increased dramatically. A wave of immigrants flowed in from various countries, including China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Many of these immigrants fled their homeland in search of prosperity and the opportunity to pursue their own visions of life; others left to escape economic depression or religious/ethnic persecution.
One of these immigrants was my grandfather Chun Wong (whom I call Yeh Yeh). He was born on February 15, 1921 in a small village in Canton, China. To learn more about him and my family history, I interviewed my father Will Wong on the topic. He was the oldest of nine siblings and was expected to help support the family. His family was buried in a mountain of poverty so he had to work constantly in the fields in order to earn enough money to afford food. At age 15, he discovered an opportunity to pursue a new life in America. After reviewing the recent interview, I realized that many generational conflicts existed between him and his father. Many American-born Chinese children developed views that conflicted with those of their immigrant parents due to inheritance of traditional values, differences in exposure to American culture, and the need to fit in with the rest of American society. Often, these generation clashes resulted in conflicts with their parents as well as identity crises within themselves.
Throughout his life, my father has struggled with living in a strict traditional household while trying to adapt to the American way of life. However, my grandfather persistently tried to instill his old family values in his son. These conflicting ideas and values resulted in a mixture of American and traditional Chinese cultures that I have experienced throughout my life.