After my first semester at Princeton University, I was excited to return home to Guam for winter break. However, instead of being happy to be back in what most people deem as a “tropical paradise,” I was reminded of something sobering: I am poor. Compared to the comforts provided at Princeton, the living conditions of my family seemed dismal. While some students complain about their dorm beds being too lumpy or the water pressure in the restrooms being too low, I was grateful for these things after having to sleep on the couch and floor for my entire life and to use a bucket to flush the toilets at home.
Nelson Mandela’s memorial service earlier this month met an outpouring of kind words in commemoration. Dignitaries from Barack Obama to Ban ki-Moon to Raúl Castro struggled to convey the significance of his life while still capturing a glimpse of his humanity along the way. Countless others around the globe offered tributes upon learning of his death. Heads of state and an infinite reel of media voices honored his passing, entirely unsurprising for a man so loved by so many. Some spoke from grief, some in celebration of his life. A few politicians casually treated his death as a cheap political opportunity (see Rick Santorum comparing the liberation struggle against apartheid to the liberation struggle against the Affordable Care Act). Other voices, however, were even more perverse. Continue reading
To most people, being asked, “Where are you from?” seems innocuous enough. Someone is just trying to get to know you a little bit better. Asian Americans, however, have almost universally had a different experience with this question. At first we’ll answer with “California,” “New York,” or a variety of other places. But then comes the dreaded follow-up question: “But where are you really from?” It becomes immediately clear that there’s a certain answer that is expected, and a failure to comply will just result in more questions.