Jewasian

February 1, 2009
By
'You're my favorite Jewasian!"
'Ever tried eating matzah with chopsticks?'
'Hahahah nice hat girl! <3.'
These are all comments under one of my Myspace pictures. It is a picture of me a couple years ago, a fifteen year old Asian girl smiling sweetly wearing a pink yarmulke. No, I'm not making a mockery of the Jewish faith; it is actually a personalized yarmulke from my Bat Mitzvah. I use the word 'Jewasian' to try and describe myself, but I have heard variations like Jasian, Caujasian, Jewacish and more. In reality, there's a reason why there's not one labeling word for me. It's because there's not a large number of Korean girls, with Caucasian parents, who are also Jewish, just like me. My diverse background, that has sometimes made me feel uncomfortable, has shaped me to be the unique individual I am today, and it all started with my adoption.


About four months after entering the world on July 27, 1991 in Inchon City, Korea, I arrived into the arms of my adoptive parents. My childhood was not out of the ordinary. It was just like most others living the middle class suburban life, but as I grew up I realized that there was more setting us all apart. Even though I've lived a comfortable life, because of my background, I see the world differently. My biological parents had to stop their schooling after middle school to work in a sewing factory to survive. Unlike some of my peers who are sadly stuck in the 'suburban bubble', my roots are proof that other people would give anything, even their parenthood, so their children could have these opportunities. That's why I appreciate the schools I've attended, and although essays and huge tests can be stressful, I'm lucky to even be able to experience it. I'm glad I've fully grasped that now. It's put a hunger inside me, a flame under me, urging me to reach my full potential. I know I've been given this miraculous chance to be whatever I want, and wasting it is not an option. As if being Asian with two Caucasian parents isn't enough, I grew up in a Jewish household as well, adding another uncommon dimension to my identity.

I attended preschool and then Hebrew school at my synagogue so the kids I grew up with weren't fazed by my ethnicity, but once an outsider entered our classroom, the awkward stare was back. One night at Hebrew school a new girl entered and her first words were, 'OH MY GOD IS THAT AN ASIAN?!' She said it with such surprise and a twinge of disgust, as if I didn't belong there as much as she did. Every Friday night our class had a Junior Congregation, but because of that girl, the following Friday night was different. The entire week I practiced all the prayers, the movements, the refrains, and different variations over and over again, until I no longer needed the support of the Siddur. Friday came and I volunteered to lead most every prayer, singing them by heart, glancing at the obnoxious girl struggling to follow along. I showed her that being Asian had nothing to do with being Jewish also. After that, there were no more Asian comments coming out of her mouth; ironically, there were only requests for me to teach her the prayers.


I used to be uncomfortable with myself, with all my identities clashing together. But now, I've learned to love the cultural explosion I call myself. Now I enjoy the shocked and confused faces when I explain my mixture of backgrounds because it's a chance to teach them the different aspects of my life. I am open to others, willing to accept, and I can adapt to different surroundings. The comments from my friends under my Myspace photo embracing my diversity, using my word 'Jewasian' proves that people can learn to accept without the cookie cutter 'American girl'. I've already accepted my diversity within myself and my roots, and now I'm ready to teach what being 'Jewasian' means to anyone and everyone who is willing to learn.





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$ Da Soul Brutha $ said...
Sept. 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm
in words of ma king (Lil Weezy)
yous da bomb like tick tick
fo sho
 
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