This past weekend members of ACAA and I attended ECAASU 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina. To say the least, it was a wonderful experience to be surrounded by Asians, Asian-Americans, and scholarly figures that shared my experiences concerning culture, race, and growing up as an immigrant in the United States.
What I want to focus on, however, is the phenomena of self-discovery. I discovered that I am what is known as the “1.5 Generation.” It is the demographic of children that immigrated to a new country between the ages of 5-12 (the age range is up in the air for debate of course) that immigrated with their parents. We are usually characterized by having a fluid understanding of our home country and the country we currently reside in. Such fluid understanding is constituted by a duality in understanding the social gestures and languages of our home country, while also having the ability to switch to an assimilated persona with that of the country we reside in.
I discovered this in a workshop at ECAASU led by Joanne Kang, a Student Development Coordinator from Duke University. Throughout the workshop my experiences growing up as an immigrant child who moved to Miami as a 9 year old were being brought to the surface and legitimized. It is an unusual feeling to have your childhood experiences be defined in scholarly terms, but it was nonetheless liberating in knowing that others had felt what I have felt and have published it in peer reviewed articles. These are the discoveries that build an identity within a person.