The Asian Syndrome

May 11, 2010
After three stressful tests at school that had left my brain-cells traumatized, I received my
final report card. The results were in, and I was ecstatic to find that my scores had all managed to
stay just above the brink of a B. Once home, my parents and I performed the ritualistic “opening
of the report card”. I quivered with excitement, waiting for them to shower me with praises.
This, however, was not to be the case. Their faces stolid, my parents hit me with the truth. A is
for “average”, and next time, I would just have to clean up my act with A-pluses. It was after this
episode that I realized that I deserved justice, and that Asian children across the world deserved it
too. After all, why should I be subject to such rigorous academic expectations when really, I
should be savoring the sweet joys of childhood? With firm resolution, I decided to investigate
further into this pressing matter.
Most Asian parents would probably argue that the lofty goals they set for their children
provide an impetus to the drive for success. Unfortunately, they fail to mention that what they
perceive as success is rather different from what the rest of the world thinks as success, which is
graduating from college. Here is the accurate Asian definition of success:
Success [suh k-ses]- (noun) Obtaining the prestigious career position of a doctor or lawyer, after
having attended school at nowhere less elite than MIT, Harvard, or other Ivy League schools. For
related definitions, see AFFLUENT.
A prime example of the repercussions of not adhering to the above definition is my life. Very
recently, my parents and I attended a family reunion, otherwise known as a conglomeration of
gossipmongers. Everyone from aunts to grandmothers to seventh cousins thrice-removed
gathered in a circle around a small coffee table and began discussing the recent events in their
lives. I, too, joined the group after finishing a round of cheek-pinching relatives chirping about
“How tall you’ve become!” The circle was moderately light-hearted and upbeat until one of my
distant great-aunts turned to me and with an expectant smile asked, “So what do you want to be
when you grow up?” The whole crowd of people grew silent, as this question is a decisive factor
in whether or not I would be disinherited by my parents according to the answer I gave. In this
case, the “correct” answer would be any respectable career that averaged a six-figure salary, i.e.
doctor, lawyer, high-ranking engineer, etc. I decided to be unconventional and provide enough
gossip for years to come. “I want to be a soccer player,” I stated firmly, being completely honest.
After an awkward three-second silence, the crowd erupted into chaos. The events that occurred
after this are now a blur in my mind. Suffice to say that my parents whisked me away from the
scene as quickly as possible, and my social interactions in the following two weeks were quite
literally, nonexistent.
Sadly, I am not the only one to endure bizarre situations such as the one mentioned above.
Many Asian children across the world are going through equally difficult, if not worse scenarios.
As if that weren’t enough, Asian parents have come up with a set of “consequences” for
those (rare) situations where their children come up a bit short. For example, I once had a friend
in elementary school named Lauren* who made a 97 on a science project because she misspelled
the word ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis’ in her cumulative report. I did not
see Lauren again till high school. I believe to this day that she was locked in a broom closet and
made to write the word that she misspelled as many times as it took her to spell it correctly. This
shows the extremes to which Asian parents resort to mold their kid into the ideal MIT or Harvard
clone. They also believe that attending an Ivy League school automatically guarantees you a
millionaire’s income. I would like to point out that plenty of people have succeeded in life by not
going to an Ivy League school, or even by dropping out of school (Bill Gates dropped out of
Harvard University and then co-founded Microsoft and became rich, although Asian parents
would probably frown upon him and tell their children, "Don't be like that man. He could have
been more rich if he had stayed in school.").
Here, we come to the ironic part of the issue. Asian parents overwork their kids so much
that when it comes time to apply for college, their academic ability may be great, but socially,
they are outcasts. They do not achieve the goals their parents forced on them simply because they
studied too much. It is quite a disadvantage when someone asks you what your name is and you
start reciting the mathematical properties of the alphabet. The social awkwardness of Asian
children is a common thing and can be seen in schools across America. For example, a few
months ago, I was invited to attend an end of school year dance. The evening was proceeding
uneventfully until a latecomer entered the room. The latecomer was an Asian, and he went
unnoticed until a group of kids began discussing MySpace. The Asian student suddenly became
* Name has been changed for individual?s safety.
very excited and jumped headfirst into the conversation, almost hyperventilating as he
enthusiastically talked about the new spectrophotometer pictures he had recently uploaded to his
online photo album. Needless to say, the Asian student became the laughingstock of the school. It
is a well-known fact that perfect Asian children do very well on their SAT, performing just at the
level where their parents expect them to be. What is not as well-known, however, is that their
parents are actually standing over them while they study the nights before the test, warning them
that if they slip-up, the new solar-powered calculator they received for their birthday will be not
be returned to them. With threats and stress like that, it is no wonder that Asian students are so
serious about their grades.
Something has to be done to stop this atrocity because Asian children are the future of
America. It is possible they may even invent a piece of technology with a fancy scientific name
that is particularly useful for diverting rogue meteors from hitting the earth, which according to
CNN, might happen in the year 2014. If their mental and emotional stability is being put in
jeopardy by their overreacting parents, we must take action quickly. For all you know, your life
depends on it.

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PassionProductions said...
May 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Very nicely written article.    I am Asian also and feel the pressure you describe in the article (although I admit not quite as harsh as some of the instances you gave).  Once, someone made the comment to me that I was smart because I was Asian, not so.  The reason I am smart is because I work hard and have big dreams. 

I admit that sometimes I fit into the Asian stereotypes, but I do have an active social life and from the way your article is written, I think... (more »)

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