Monday, September 04, 2006

Those Asian Americans at Richard Montgomery High

Yesterday, I did a little WaPo archive diving (Yes, my early sunday morning habits are somewhat strange. Just in case you didn't know that.), and I came across a typical piece on Asian Americans. Excerpts:

Asian Students Contend With Expectations. By Marc Fisher, Washington Post.

"How many of you play piano?" I ask. Nearly everyone raises a hand.

"Been in an SAT prep course since seventh grade?" Oh yeah.

"Go to Chinese school on Saturdays?" Check.

By this point, the Asian students who fill a room at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville are laughing -- at their stereotype, at themselves, at life as immigrants' kids.


The students summoned me here because there's a story they want told, a story about lives that others assume are copacetic -- straight A's, top colleges, smooth sailing.

Other kids at RM may see the Asians -- who make up 23 percent of students there, and 14 percent countywide -- as a privileged class, and there's something to that.

"We can get away with things that other kids can't," says Maddie Jalandoni, a senior. "They never stop us for a pass in the hallway. In ninth grade, I lost my calculator and went to the security office. Normally, they ask you for ID before they give you anything. But she just said, 'I trust you.' "

"That just happened to me today," adds senior Jessica Dinh. "Security stopped this African American girl in the hall, and I was right there and I didn't have a pass either, but nobody says anything to me."

I heard three more stories along those lines before we switched to the flip side. Asian students say teachers hold them to higher standards because they know Asian parents press their kids hard. The students say they put harsh pressure on themselves as well: Non-Asians may see 18 Asians among 26 students in a BC calculus class and think, "They have it made." Asians look at that scene and, as Dinh puts it, "you feel this pressure: I'm surrounded by Asians who are really studying hard, so now I really have to study even harder."

That attitude stems from a life of competition and striving. "I took every lesson possible," says senior Jamie Chen. "Ice skating, gymnastics, violin. Later, I asked my mother why she made me do all that, and she said she always wanted those chances."

Add the punishing quotas that Asian students face in the college admissions game -- colleges don't admit to using quotas, but the numbers tell the story -- and the result is pressure through every step of childhood.


I would love to add some rants on pressure and paternal expectations and stuff. But for me, it's back to "How can we integrate muslims into German society?". And how "We" ("the" Western world, that is) are humiliating them and how we can change our attitudes towards them to make them feel more accepted.

1 comment:

Mad Minerva said...

This is just so typical and boring now...All I have to say is: "Blah blah blah"! ;-)

How about this: we all have very high expectations for EVERYBODY.