Washington Post: How it feels when white people shame your [Asian] culture’s food, then make it trendy

Washington Post (by Ruth Tam):

When I’m craving comfort food, I’ll take my father’s ngau lam over mac and cheese any day. Although it takes the better part of a day to prepare, his Cantonese braised brisket stew always soothes my stomach and my soul.

I love the cooking process almost more than the flavor. My father cuts a square of cheesecloth and adds cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorn, ginger, orange peel and a sweet root with no English name to its center. He ties it into a neat bundle and lets me hold it to my nose before dropping it into a rich broth in which brisket, tripe and tendon simmer for hours until tender.

Before all the ngau lam ingredients converge in a giant pot, the brisket, tripe and tendon must be blanched. It gives off a hot, heavy stench that permeates every room of the house and adheres to every fiber.

My childhood home in suburban Chicago always smelled like whatever we were cooking. Visiting us meant cloaking yourself in the scent of haam daan ju yoke beng, a dish of steamed pork and salted egg, or the perfume of mapodoufu, tofu and minced pork with a spicy chili and fermented black bean sauce.

I didn’t mind the smells growing up because I wasn’t aware of them. That is, until a high school friend declared my house smelled of “Chinese grossness.”

The comment clung to me like the smell in my home. My embarrassment hit a peak when my father installed a 5-foot-long fish tank in our family room so he could steam fish at home — extra fresh. I tried to pretend the blue fish swimming around in the murky green water were pets, but the lack of tank accessories gave away our true intentions, stunning my white friends.

My hunger for my family’s food was overpowered by my desire to fit in, so I minimized Chinese food’s role in my life and learned to make pasta instead. Little did I know that Americans would come to embrace the dishes and cooking styles that once mortified me. The Cantonese foods of my childhood have reappeared in trendy restaurants that fill their menus with perfectly plated fine-dining versions of our traditional cuisine. In some cases, this shift has been heartening. But in too many others, the trend has reduced staples of our culture to fleeting fetishes.

The shame associated with immigrant foods (until they become foodies’ favorites) isn’t unique to me or Chinese dishes. In her new book, “Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking,” Korean cook and YouTube star Maangchi writes fondly of Korean soup soy sauce. In South Korea, all of her neighbors would boil their own. In the United States, though, the soup was received differently:

“I remember boiling my Korean soup soy sauce when I lived in Missouri, and my apartment manager knocked on my door. ‘What’s that smell? I got a complaint from your neighbor.’ I was so embarrassed that I didn’t make soup soy sauce again for a long time, even after I moved back to Korea.”

Even now, as an accomplished cook in New York City, Maangchi doesn’t boil soup soy sauce in her home. Instead, she takes it to a creek at the base of the Henry Hudson Bridge and boils it in a portable gas burner “where no one will complain.”

This experience is so universal that it recently became canonized in pop culture. New York chef Eddie Huang retold the story of his daily lunchroom shaming in a scene from “Fresh Off the Boat,” an ABC sitcom based on his memoir. When young Eddie takes a carton of noodles out of his lunchbox, his white classmates react with disgust: “Ying Ming’s eating worms! Dude, that smells nasty!” Back at home, Eddie demands his parents start packing him “white people lunch.”

The lengths to which immigrant families have gone to hide the way we feed ourselves break my heart. But something has changed. In cities big and small, Asian dishes and flavors have become popular among foodies at chic eateries. Foods that were once considered too strong, too spicy, too smelly or too obviously-from-an-animal for my white friends are now on Restaurant Week menus nationwide.

A month ago, I saw a kimchi burger on the menu at Macintyre’s, a new bar in Washington’s upscale Woodley Park neighborhood. It’s just two miles north of Drafting Table, which sells a duck-and-hoisin-sauce grilled cheese. And a few blocks from there is Masa 14, which features crispy chicken wings and meatballs on its “Dim Sum” menu. Downtown, Wolfgang Puck’s The Source offers lobster bao buns and “Chinoise-style” chicken salad.

In one way, this is a positive change. Now that I’ve gotten over my fear of stinking up my kitchen, the growing number of Asian grocery stores means I don’t have to visit home to get ingredients for homemade Chinese food. Greater acceptance of international eateries allows immigrants, professional chefs and otherwise to explore their culture and dual identity proudly, instead of behind closed doors or at the edge of the Henry Hudson Bridge.

Gravitating toward “new” cuisines is understandable, and when done well, immigrant food can provoke discussions about personal history and shared diasporas. I’ve seen this happen at restaurants such as China Chilcano, which describes the history of Chinese and Peruvian fusion that influences its menu, a bare minimum that many restaurants ignore.

But while some eateries get it right, the United States’s take on “ethnic” food often leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Recently, I discovered I can order bone broth, like my grandmother used to make, in New York City — the same way I would order a cold-pressed juice.

“2015 is the year of bone broth!”  the “Today” show declared in January. “These days, the hottest food trend is a steaming cup of soup.” The morning show touted bone broth as a newly discovered wonder food of “Paleo dieters and wellness enthusiasts,” making no mention of its grounding in Chinese culture.

In the United States, immigrant food is often treated like discount tourism — a cheap means for foodies to feel worldly without leaving the comfort of their neighborhood — or high-minded fusion — a stylish way for American chefs to use other cultures’ cuisines to reap profit. The dishes of America’s recent immigrants have become check marks on a cultural scavenger hunt for society’s elite. One conspicuous example is an upcoming eatery in Washington’s Petworth neighborhood that packages discount tourism and high-minded fusion into one menu. The as-yet-unnamed restaurant seeks to re-create Southeast Asia’s “expat experience” — not for Asian residents in D.C. but for D.C. residents who crave the feeling of visiting Asia with other foreigners.

“When you travel in Southeast Asia, you have two experiences: the cultural experiences with the temples, food, and people, and then a phenomenal traveler’s culture, too,” chef Alex McCoy told Washingtonian. “That’s the inspiration for this place. We want to introduce people to Thai cuisine, but frame it in the eye of a traveler.”

This cultural appropriation stings because the same dishes hyped as “authentic” on trendy menus were scorned when cooked in the homes of the immigrants who brought them here. Fashionable food from foreign cultures may satisfy a temporary hunger, but if you’re trying it for shallow reasons, you’ll be culturally unfulfilled in the long run.

Instead of attempting to expand our palates with best-restaurant lists and foodie fads, we should find deeper ways to explore the diversity of dishes that have come to the United States.

We need food writers like Monica Bhide, who appreciate not only diverse tastes, but also the cultures that produced them. We need more cookbook authors like Maangchi, who documents traditional recipes so fans of Korean food can participate in culinary rituals. We need more publications like Lucky Peach, which treats immigrant food with the same complexity that is bestowed on the all-American burger. And we need more films like “The Search for General Tso” that examine our relationship with “ethnic” food.

Americans are increasingly interested in where food is sourced. Surely, that interest should extend to a meal’s cultural roots as well as its biological origins.

My dad’s ngau lam is not gross, but I never want it to be given the “fad” treatment. You should try it the way he likes to prepare it — after he blanches the cow stomach, adds the bag of spices and lets it cook for hours.

The best meals are more than the sum of their ingredients; their flavors tell the stories of the rich cultures that created them. When the same respect is afforded to immigrant food as traditional “American” food, eating it will sate us in more ways than one.

Meet Sara Jane Ho, the woman teaching manners and etiquette to China’s elite

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Next Shark: 

Last month, we highlighted a short series by GQ titled The Bling Dynasty that covered China’s blossoming culture of the newly rich and the hurdles their society faces with so many instant millionaires and billionaires popping up everywhere.

One of those challenges has to do with knowing how to act rich. They are called tuhao, which roughly translates to “the rich but uncultured of China.”

Tuhao can buy luxury supercars, yachts, private jets and designer clothes like candy, but they struggle to pronounce anything in French, they don’t know how to use a fork and knife properly, how to dress fashionably or how to really spend their money, so they look to guidance from the continental culture that invented the highest form of class known — the West.

From the perspective of most Westerners (and GQ journalists), it’s almost too easy to poke fun at China’s newly rich and their peculiar idiosyncrasies, but there is a much larger context that most are either historically unaware of or unable to directly mention due to current politics.

China is one of the oldest civilizations this planet has ever seen, withstanding the test of time virtually unchanged for thousands of years. However, nearly a century ago, their imperial system had rotted from the inside out and was overthrown by a new regime. In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was established by an anti-imperialist named Mao Zedong. In 1966, he launched the Cultural Revolution, a 10-year counter-revolutionary movement that was marked by violent class struggle, street executions, labor camps, book burnings and the destruction of thousands of years’ worth of cultural treasures and knowledge. China’s old-world culture had essentially been erased, and the cult of Mao Zedong became the new school. This new culture started from nothing but proletarian struggle, and not until China’s open door policy and economic boom of the 1980s did their lack of old-world values become most apparent.

That’s where Sara Jane Ho comes in, but for business and marketing purposes, she’s simply known as Sara Jane. Educated on the American East Coast and polished at a Swiss finishing school, Ho founded the Institute Sarita, an etiquette school based in Beijing where she holds courses for China’s wealthy on how to fill the shell of elite status their newly found money has created for them.

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For about $15,000, wealthy Chinese, mostly women, take part in a 12-day course that consists of lessons like “Introduction to the Noble Sports,” “Pronunciation of Luxury Brands,” “British Afternoon Tea,” “Lingerie Lesson” and “Introduction to French Cuisine.”

We had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Jane over email, where she answered some questions about her clientele and how she is bringing old-world European class to modern China’s newly rich.

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Tell us about your background and how you ended up going to school in the U.S. and later to finishing school in Switzerland.

“I grew up in Hong Kong but felt constrained by the environment and schooling there, so as a teenager I left to attend boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy. I felt that the States better suited my personality. I went on to Georgetown and after a stint of banking to HBS.

Some girl friends of mine had attended Swiss finishing school and I myself have always had a passion for hosting; I enjoy bringing people together and making new friends. The course at finishing school is on how to be a hostess: how to greet and take care of others, including table conversation, table seating, flower arrangement, deportment, gifting, afternoon tea, planning a menu, etc.”

What was the greatest challenge for you in growing Institute Sarita? What’s the most valuable lesson for business or dealing with people that you’ve learned since launching?

“A school is an old-fashioned business. I’m not a tech company that’s going to IPO in three years! I’m a brick and mortar kind of girl; I like laying the foundation and growing slowly but steadily. We currently have one school, in Beijing, and 80% of our clients fly from all over China just to take the course. We are very high end and a boutique, so scaling will be the greatest challenge in growing the business.

A mentor taught me that ‘in China, slow is fast.’ I decide and execute quickly – sometimes too quickly – but the highest realms of business are like taichi. Slow and deliberate. The Chinese way to deal with problems are to postpone them for as long as possible!”

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Do you feel there are facets of Chinese culture or history that may be responsible for China’s “lack” of modern etiquette?

“It’s important to remember that Chinese etiquette is thousands of years old. Confucius first taught us his values 2,600 years ago.

Recent history in China has led to some lost culture and values which we hope to bring back. Now that China is becoming an economic and political power on the global stage, Chinese need to better understand the rest of the world and let the world better understand China.

It’s also important to remember that no other country has gone through so much change in so short a time. We need to be patient.”

Do you think your courses allow your clients to “buy” class? What kind of mindset do you want your students to take away from your classes?

“Chinese are adopting a higher measure of quality of life. They have deeper desires, hold themselves to higher standards, and want to earn the respect of others – these are all indicators of social progress. My course is not for people to ‘buy’ class; etiquette is about how to put people around you at ease.”

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Do you believe successful people today exercise the amount of propriety you teach your students?

“Not necessarily! Career success does not necessarily mean one has good manners! Although manners and high EQ do help one’s career.”

Is there a single most “bad habit” you find yourself having to correct with your clients? What other behaviors perturb you the most?

“My students are actually very sophisticated and considerate individuals. I believe this is the biggest misconception of them. We are not a basic etiquette school, but rather an elegant finishing school. Princess Diana went to Swiss finishing school not to learn not to spit, but how to be a hostess and take care of others. There is no ‘bad habit’ or behavior that ‘perturbs’ me.”

It seems you teach etiquette to only female clients. What about men? Can you list off some things you think men in Chinese culture should change to follow proper etiquette?

“We have a men’s course but our specialty courses are for ladies: debutante for unmarried women and hostess for married women. If you look at finishing schools and charm schools in Switzerland or the USA, it is traditionally for women. I think all men all over the world could benefit from attending etiquette school!”

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Can you tell us about your passions outside of the world of business and etiquette?

“I have begun collecting contemporary Chinese art and am a young patron of the Ullens Centre of Contemporary Arts in Beijing.

I am also a competitive horse rider in Beijing’s show jumping circuit and competed in the Longines Masters in the National Olympic Stadium (Bird’s Nest) last year.

I find that spending time up close and personal with my horse renews my sense of wonder. When work gets busy with my school or social events, I simplify my life by spending time in nature with my horse. Riding is so old fashioned and there is a charm about it. I love the smell of the stables – it calms me and I am reminded of my childhood.”

Do you have plans to develop Institute Sarita further and expand?

“In May 2015, we will launch our second school, which will be in Shanghai. It is in a beautiful old villa in the French Concession and I am going through the plans with my designer right now. It will be a similar set-up to Beijing, with a concept store attached to the institute. So I am looking for cool products overseas to bring to the Chinese market!”

Japanese, Korean, Chinese… What’s the difference?

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GaijinPot (by Kelsey Leuzinger):

Until I lived in Asia, I can honestly say I didn’t know the major differences between Japan, Korea, and China. I realize that’s extremely narrow-minded of me but since living in Japan, I’ve grown a lot because of having to make such a drastic change in my mindset about these countries.

However, after talking to family and friends in America as well as my ESL students around the world, I’ve come to understand that I am not alone in my confusion between the three races.

When you first live in Japan, it’s very important to understand the differences between Japanese and other Asian cultures. Once you can understand them better, you start to see why Japanese live life the way they do; and it, in turn, makes living in Japan a much more fulfilling experience.

Here are just a few of the many differences I noticed between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean culture to help you separate them in your mind, and hopefully gain more respect for each one individually.
Mannerisms

I can’t think of a more extreme difference that I noticed between these races than their mannerisms in everyday life. While there are some similarities, it is easy to tell that someone was raised in Japan versus China, and sometimes Korea as well.

Bowing is one aspect of each culture that most assume is the same, but in fact, it has evolved in each country over the years. In Japan and Korea, a slight bow when greeting each other and a deeper bow in more formal situations is still considered appropriate.

However, in China, the handshake has actually become a common greeting, with only a slight head nod rather than the traditional bow. I noticed this a little in my experiences with Chinese people, but especially with the Korean and Japanese. Even in my Skype lessons with these two, we often end the call with a bow out of respect, which is definitely unique from my other students.

Another mannerism that I noticed in everyday life was the volume and tone of their speaking. I visited Hokkaido, Japan on vacation once, and began to see and hear Chinese tourists from a mile (er, kilometer) away each time I got on a train. Upon entering a train or other public transportation, Japanese and Koreans typically remain eerily silent and even keep their laughter to a minimum. Chinese, on the other hand, don’t have the cultural custom of quietness in public spaces.

So, you’ll often see people in China and Hong Kong laughing and raising their voices, which is a stark contrast to Japan and Korea. I’m sure this has something to do with their long history of such held traditions, but that would take an entire course in Asian history, so I digress.

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Fashion

When considering their appearance in everyday life, fashion between the three countries varies somewhat as well. Modern day Japanese men and women typically prefer subtle hues, often with short shorts and skirts for women and tight pants for men. Also, they’re known for their kawaii (cute) culture even in fashion, which is one way that you can tell a Japanese person from other Asians.

Koreans on the other hand are known to choose brighter colors more often than the Japanese, but still bring in a similar element of the pop Asian fashion that’s popular across the three countries. I was also told once that even despite the Japanese’s constant effort in never leaving the house without looking immaculate, the Korean culture putseven more emphasis on both this aspect as well as brand name items.

In China, fashion varies greatly in urban and rural settings, but overall they take a more Western approach to their clothing and accessories. When I visited Chinatown or even Hong Kong, I always noticed their t-shirt and jeans, which is something that seemed like an anomaly in Japan or with my Korean acquaintances.
 

Language

When you start to recognize the differences between the three languages, things will start to make more sense to you about their distinct cultures. To me, a person’s language and way of speaking says a lot about their culture; and you can really learn a lot about the person’s background when you start paying attention to how they speak.

If you have studied Japanese, you know that the entire language consists of only 5 vowel sounds and about 100 different syllables with very few variations. “A I U E O” becomes totally clear even to the untrained ear when listening to a Japanese person speak. In addition, each Japanese word either ends in a vowel or “n,” making it easy to pick up on Japanese even if you haven’t learned the first word.

Korean, on the other hand, can end words in consonants other than “n.” They do have a simple syllabic and vowel system similar to Japanese, but before learning more of the language it was always easy for me to tell the difference by the increased number of consonants.

Even though China’s languages are the origin for Japanese and Korean, the spoken language seems like it could not be more different. Not only does Mandarin, the official standard for China, contain multiple vowel sounds for each English equivalent, but their mannerisms and personality come into play as well. They seem to raise and lower their intonation and tone increasingly, and combine consonants where Japanese or Korean wouldn’t.

Without dissecting this country’s incredibly detailed and historic languages, it’s safe to say you can still pick a Chinese person out of a crowd based on their distinctions from Japanese or Korean.

After analyzing only these three differences between the cultures, it’s easy to start to see the uncountable differences between the three countries. So, before you quickly assume “Japanese,” “Korean,” or “Chinese,” take a step back and remember that each person comes from a unique country that is their own. They each have their own culture, an incredibly long history, and deserve to be distinguished because of it.

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Asian-American domination in elite schools triggers resentment and soul searching

 

Student at Stuyvesant High School
Student at Stuyvesant High School Wikipedia

The rise of Asian-Americans and their dominance in academia may be exemplified by the extraordinary performance of Asian-American students in New York City.

According to recent media reports, Asian-American students account for almost three-fourths of the enrollment at Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s eight specialized, elite public schools that strictly use test scores for admission. Asians represent less than 14 percent of the city’s entire public school student body, meaning they are disproportionately represented at Stuyvesant by a magnitude of about five. (In 1970, Asians accounted for only 6 percent of Stuyvesant’s student body.) Whites, including Jewish students whose numbers made them prominent as a group at the school, now represent less than a fourth (24 percent) of Stuyvesant’s enrollment, down from 79 percent in 1970.

In stark contrast, the enrollment of blacks and Hispanics (who together account for about three-fourths of the city’s entire public school system) at Stuyvesant is almost minimal — and falling. According to the New York Times, only seven black students were admitted to Stuyvesant this year (down from nine last year), while the number of Latinos dropped from 24 to 21. (Stuyvesant has a total enrollment of about 3,300.)

At two other prominent elite public schools in New York, Brooklyn Technical High School and Bronx High School of Science, the number of black pupils is also small, and it’s declining compared to previous recent years, the Times noted. For example, black enrollment at Stuyvesant peaked in 1975 at 12 percent of the student body.

Some critics blame the low enrollment of blacks and Hispanics at Stuyvesant (and the other specialized schools) on one principal factor: their lack of access to test preparation academies and tutoring classes.

Reportedly, many students in impoverished black and Latino neighborhood schools are not even aware of the testing procedures and how to prepare for them, nor can many afford the costly classes to train for these crucial pretest examinations.

The city’s Education Department said that 28,000 students across the city took the “Specialized High School Admissions Test” last year, and about 5,700 of them were offered admission to the elite schools. Of that figure, 53 percent were Asian, 26 percent were white, but only 5 percent were black and 7 percent Hispanic.

Two of the city’s most powerful voices, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, have called for a revamp of admission policies and procedures.

We must do more to reflect the diversity of our city in our top-tier schools — and we are committed to doing just that,” Fariña told the Daily News. “In the coming months we will be looking at ways to address the gap that has left so many of our black and Latino students out of specialized high schools.”

De Blasio, whose mixed-race son, Dante, attends one of the elite public schools, Brooklyn Tech, has promised to change the admissions procedures, although any proposal he makes is subject to approval by the state Legislature in Albany, which made the single-test admission requirement state law in 1971.

These schools are the jewels in the crown for our public school system,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “This is a city blessed with such diversity. Our schools, especially our particularly exceptional schools, need to reflect that diversity.”

Karim Camara, a Democratic assemblyman from Brooklyn, is preparing a revised bill that would give the city power to control admissions rules in the elite public schools.

The Brooklyn Reader reported that Reginald Richardson, a high school principal in Brooklyn, said that while the enrollment numbers for blacks and Latinos at elite public schools are unacceptable, the root problem is that there are insufficient educational opportunities available to non-Asian minorities, and the main problem is not the testing.

These outcomes tell us that the education that black and Latino kids are receiving in the elementary schools and middle schools in the city is poor, and that they’re not able to be competitive,” he said. “But those same kids are going to have to sit for the SATs when it’s time to go to college, and you won’t be able to change the metrics for the SATs. We need to address the fundamental problem of all kids getting a great education. And that’s not happening in the city. And these results of these entrance examinations in the schools are just evidence of it.”

Academics are divided over these various issues: why Asians perform so well academically, and whether testing should be the sole basis of admission to top schools.

Guofang Li, an associate professor of second language and literacy education in the Department of Teacher Education of Michigan State University, is one scholar who does not believe that admission-by-testing is unfair to anyone.

In a culture where Asians are still a minority group — and often marginalized in society– tests are actually providing a good pathway for Asians to get opportunities like … attending a good school with good resources … which can help them get into a better university and hopefully better employment in the future,” she said in an interview.

But Jennifer Lee, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, believes that admission testing is quite unfair to economically disadvantaged Hispanics and blacks.

Access to unequal resources will result in unequal outcomes,” she said. “Until we can provide adequate resources for all New York City children to prepare for admissions tests, we will continue see racial disparities in admissions to schools like Stuyvesant.”

On the other side of the argument, Li  believes that applying affirmative action-type policies to public school admissions would be disastrous.

[Stuyvesant] is diverse, just [with] different [racial] ratios,” she said. “Normally, most schools in suburban areas are 75 percent white and 25 percent other ethnic groups, while urban schools [may typically have a] 75 percent black or Hispanic population and 25 percent other ethnic groups.” She noted that such school racial compositions are accepted by most people as “diverse,” but when Asians form the dominant ethnic group (as in Stuyvesant), suddenly questions and complaints arise.

I do think people have a perception [of] what a diverse school has to be,” she said. “[But] if Asians are in good schools, they have a problem with it.”

Jerome Krase of the sociology department at Brooklyn College-CUNY, author of “Seeing Cities Change: Local Culture and Class,” said that if de Blasio and Fariña want to change admission policies at elite high schools, it would defeat the schools’ very purpose. But he does see race playing a role in denying opportunities to blacks and Latinos.

[It would be] better to improve the local schools and improve the life conditions of those who are disadvantaged,” Krase said. “They could also make sure that all schools provide the best education possible for all students. [But] this is not likely, because it means paying higher taxes to help other peoples’ children. New York City and Americans in general are no longer as generous when it comes to helping those in need, especially as the composition of those in need have become less ‘European’.”

Asians in New York City, who comprise a broad array of ethnic groups, including Pakistanis, Chinese, Indians, and Koreans, among many others, are uncomfortable with comments suggesting that there are “too many” of them in the metropolis’ best public schools. This perception puts many Asian students and their families on the defensive about their cultures’ emphasis on education and personal sacrifice, and many feel it also can lead to racially biased statements about the work habits and intelligence of other ethnic groups.

Jan Michael Vicencio, a Filipino student at Brooklyn Tech, explained to the Times how Asian students are both ridiculed and praised for their academic excellence. “You know, [other kids say] ‘You’re Asian, you must be smart,’ ” he said. “And you’re not sure [if] it’s a compliment or an insult. We get that a lot.”

Other Asian students point out that parental discipline and rigorous scholarship, which are common in their cultures, explain their relatively superior performance in American schools, not any innate intelligence or intellectual superiority.

Most of our parents don’t believe in [the word] ‘gifted,’” Riyan Iqbal, a son of Bangladeshi immigrants and a student at Bronx Science, said. “It’s all about hard work.”

Citing the poverty and hardships his family experienced in their native Bangladesh, Riyan added: “You try to make up for their hardships. I knew my parents would still love me if I didn’t get into Bronx Science. But they would be very disappointed.”

Asians in general value education, according to Li.

“[The] education of their children is often a family affair, and the whole family [invests] a lot of time, resources and efforts, even soon after a child is born,” Li said. “Many Asian families invest a lot of money [in] their children’s studies, including preparing for exams and tests.

But, again, Lee takes a somewhat different view on why Asians perform well on tests. She says that some Asian immigrants — especially Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese — hail from countries where the only means of gaining admission into universities is through a rigorous, national entrance exam.

So, they are more accustomed to the practice of test-taking for school admissions,” Lee said. “And because of the high stakes of students’ performance on this test, Asian parents are more likely to invest their resources in supplemental education for their children to ensure that they perform well on these tests.”

Lee added that some of this supplemental education is offered at no or little cost in ethnic communities through community organizations, while churches also help poor and working-class Chinese overcome their class disadvantages.

So it’s not that certain groups or certain cultures value education more than others,” Lee insisted. “All groups value education. Rather, groups have differential access to available resources to help them gain access into these competitive magnet schools.”

Lee noted that Asian immigrants tend to come from countries in which effort, rather than ability alone, is hailed as the route to achievement.

Because Asian immigrant parents believe that increased effort leads to continuous improvement, they are more likely to invest their resources in supplemental education for their children compared to native-born American parents,” she said.

On a national basis, some Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans are both puzzled and outraged over quota and affirmative action programs that hurt them despite their status as “racial minorities.”

Irwin Tang, an Austin, Texas-based psychotherapist, told Diverse Education that he believes some of the nation’s elite universities impose “unofficial” quotas to limit Asian enrollment, as they once did for Jews. According to reports, up to 18 percent of Ivy League school students are now of Asian descent, and Harvard’s incoming class last year was more than one-fifth Asian. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 28 percent of students are Asian-American, while at University of California at Berkeley, the figure is 39 percent.

Affirmative action lowers the bar for black and Hispanic students,” Tang said. “They don’t have to score high or have as high of a GPA compared to an Asian student. That’s why many Asian students are being advised not to reveal their race.”

Tang added that he would like to see high schools and elementary schools improve across the board. “The solution is not affirmative action. The solution is to have equal standards for everyone and an improved education system,” he said.

Ron Unz, the publisher of the American Conservative magazine, wrote in an op-ed in the Times in December 2012 that quotas on Asians at Harvard and other elite colleges — the allegations are widely denied by university officials — echo similar quotas imposed on Jews decades ago. Unz argued that while the Asian-American population has about doubled since the early 1990s, their presence in Ivy League institutions has either remained flat or fallen slightly.

The last 20 years have brought a huge rise in the number of Asians winning top academic awards in our high schools or being named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists,” Unz wrote. “It seems quite suspicious that none of [these] trends have been reflected in their increased enrollment at Harvard and other top Ivy League universities.”

Despite the stellar performance of Asians in U.S. high schools and colleges, their ascendance to high positions in corporations has not caught up.

Many outstanding Asians from top colleges often experience barriers to promotion and advancement at work,”  Li said. “Few Asians are in leadership or management positions [at top firms].”

Indeed, a report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2008 revealed that Asians experience multiple forms of discrimination in corporate America.

There is also a separate issue to consider — given how bewilderingly diverse and large the Asian-American community is, not all segments of this group are doing well, either academically or professionally. Generally speaking, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Indians have excelled academically and earn higher-than-average incomes. But, other Asians, particularly Bangladeshis and some Southeast Asians (e.g., Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, etc.) remain poor, undereducated and underemployed. These facts would seem to provide evidence that “Asian cultural values” do not necessarily guarantee success, given some harsh socio-economic realities.

It is critical to underscore that ‘Asian-American’ is a broad and diverse category that includes immigrant groups who arrive as highly selected and highly educated, as well as others who arrive as poorly educated immigrants or refugees with little formal education and few skills,” Lee said.

 

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Asian-American domination in elite schools triggers resentment and soul searching

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‘Black lifestyle’ in Japan

Though pale skin has denoted beauty in Japan, it no longer counts for everyone. Hina lives her life according to the ‘B-style‘, or the ‘black lifestyle‘. This includes going to the tanning salon regularly to become as dark as American hip hop artists.

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12 Reasons Lijiang Is The Prettiest City On Earth

Lijiang is a city in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. According to social media, every other college grad in China dreams of quitting their jobs to become an innkeeper here.

Lijiang is a city in China's southwestern Yunnan Province. According to social media, every other college grad in China dreams of quitting their jobs to become an innkeeper here.

Hang around Chinese social media long enough and you’ll hear about China’s ‘Four New Yuppie Fads’.

But dreaming of moving to Lijiang is about the same order of twee as wanting to open a bookstore in Portland. Tell that to your friends in China and they’ll say, “sure, right.”

Hang around Chinese social media long enough and you'll hear about China's 'Four New Yuppie Fads'.

So why do young Chinese professionals want to quit their jobs and retire in Lijiang?

So why do young Chinese professionals want to quit their jobs and retire in Lijiang?

1. First of all: compared to the coastal cities, Lijiang’s relatively small, uncluttered and clean (the metro area has 1.2 million people).

First of all: compared to the coastal cities, Lijiang's relatively small, uncluttered and clean (the metro area has 1.2 million people).

2. Yulong Snow Mountain’s glaciers are just a few dozen miles outside of the city.

Yulong Snow Mountain's glaciers are just a few dozen miles outside of the city.

3. Scene walks thread around the city.

Scene walks thread around the city.

4. And there’s charming historic architecture aplenty.

Lijiang was an important trading post for the Silk Road, and the old city section is a World Heritage site.

5. Southwestern Chinese (Yunnanese) Chinese cuisine is also severely underrated.

6. There’s surprisingly decently nightlife and bars, since it’s consistently one of the most popular vacation spots for young people.

It can apparently feel Venice-ish and over-toured during high travel season, but every idyllic historic city is at risk of that sort of artifice.

There's surprisingly decently nightlife and bars, since it's consistently one of the most popular vacation spots for young people.

7. There’s a laid back music festival there.

8. People hang out near canals and drink in the middle of the day.

9. The city’s near pristine forests, lakes and other outdoor options.

The city's near pristine forests, lakes and other outdoor options.

10. It has its own unique culture.

Most of China’s Naxi ethnic minority call Lijiang home, though their relationship with the Han majority is complicated of course.

It has its own unique culture.

11. The air’s clean and the weather’s always sunny.

The air's clean and the weather's always sunny.

12. And true to its reputation among young travelers, it’s a city of inns and small hideaways.

(But avoid the repeated souvenir shops everywhere.)

And true to its reputation among young travelers, it's a city of inns and small hideaways.

This skyline is why every college grad in China wants to move here:

This skyline is why every college grad in China wants to move here:

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