Do you recall the first time you stepped into an international business reception at a major hotel and found yourself amidst a sea of Asian faces? If so, you may also have noticed a diversity of Asian cultures and conversations in some incomprehensible languages: Cantonese Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and perhaps others. If you have been put off when people in your presence have spoken a language other than English, you are not alone.
The first day of the year in the lunar calendar is to many Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese who live outside their home countries, the most important festival of the new year that they celebrate. Other Asian ethnic groups may join the festivity in their neighborhoods even though they observe their owe New Year days. For example, the Thais honor their Songkran (Water Festival) in April or the Gujaratis celebrate theirs the day before the Asian Indian Diwali (the Festival of Lights) in late October or early November. As for the Japanese and Filipinos, they choose to observe the Gregorian New Year. With this festive day around the corner, let’s look at some of the New Year traditions of Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese.
ASIAN AMERICANS IN THE USA
Asian Americans comprise about 5.6% of the United States. Among them, the Chinese Americans, with 3.79 million—constitute the largest Asian ethnic group in the U.S. Most of them arrived at this country in three separate immigration waves, each characterized by its own set of reasons for migration.
The first wave took place during the Gold Rush in California as part of the 1800s immigration wave. The Chinese immigrants were primarily laborers from Southeast China. Some came voluntarily with the intention of returning to their home village with wealth and prestige; others were kidnapped and bought as Asian slaves. This article will follow the story of Chinese Americans and the challenges they still face.
Do you recall the last time you heard a casual remark about the stereotype of one particular racial/ethnic group? These are not blatant racist jokes, but stereotypical comments such as:
“White men can’t jump.”
“Latinos are lazy.”
“Blacks are better runners.”
“Natives are drunks.”
“Asians can’t drive.”
To honor the success of Asian Americans in this country, I would like to highlight the professional lives of five prominent Asian female executives. They have demonstrated a sense of pride in their own heritage and that this has not diminished their professional success in the western world. They are among the most powerful women in the U.S.
Not long ago, Texas made history. It became a majority minority state. In other words, the minorities together make up more than 50% of the population. Here in Texas, diversity is a buzzword. Not only does it attract attention, it gets people excited, who now want to jump on the bandwagon to organize diversity initiatives such as cultural sensitivity training or setting up a diversity council.
The nation is crying out for universal health care reform to provide adequate health insurance for the diverse citizens in the nation. Yet, American diversity includes a group of individuals who remain silent as they continue to face limited access to health care because of their limited English proficiency (LEP). A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April, 2008 indicated that during 2004-2006 almost one third of non-elderly Korean Americans in the US do not have health insurance.
To many of us, the idea of using two sticks with one hand to pick up a piece of chicken or vegetable from a plate or bowl and putting that same piece of chicken or vegetable into our mouth without dropping it is beyond one’s imagination. However, this is what one out of every five people in the world does at mealtime on a daily basis. These people with such dexterity with chopsticks live in what we call “chopsticks nations” such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.