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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    FASA Fiesta gives students opportunity to explore other cultures

    Despite being born and raised in the United States, I’m still asked by others which country I’m originally from. They’re taken aback by the food I’m used to eating, like squid and octopus, without realizing I also eat PB & J sandwiches and was brought up on In-N-Out burgers.

    Food is how I first figured out I was different, back in the elementary school cafeteria. Inside my My Melody lunchbox, I carried chopsticks, rice, seaweed and Japanese vegetables. A boy at my table pointed at my lunch and asked, “What’s that? What are you eating?” It stunned me when other kids pointed and laughed, and when I got home I demanded my mom make my lunch with only food that other kids at school would know.

    As an Asian-American, even when I’m just walking around on campus, I look around and see many white students and know I’m different. I have a different culture and am perceived differently by people who aren’t Asian-American.

    I have a diverse group of friends and they tell me that I’m different because I act nothing like what they would expect. They say they thought I’d keep to myself, be in love with Hello Kitty, throw up the peace sign every time a picture was being taken, pronounce my R’s like L’s and speak only Japanese to my parents.

    According to the UA’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support, minorities comprised less than 10 percent of the student enrollment in 1983. In 2010, that number rose to 32 percent.

    Although the number of minorities has significantly risen in the last few decades, there’s no doubt that white students still reign as the majority. Recognizing the increase in minorities doesn’t mean anything if the old stereotypes are still in place.

    Students should realize how lucky they are to be able to experience diversity right on campus. They can at least get a taste of what different cultures are like. They just have to look closer.

    Every culture holds its own traditions and every child is taught differently, depending on their parents and the people that surround them.

    As an Asian-American, I have a split heritage. I’m not only taught about my culture, but am also aware of my U.S. identity. I know when to be assertive and speak out. On the other hand, I can endure when I have to. Two different but complementary cultures reside within me. Students should explore beyond their comfort zones. “Different” just adds spice to life.

    A great opportunity to learn about different Asian cultures will be this Saturday at Mansfeld Middle School. The UA Filipino American Student Association is holding its 16th annual FASA Fiesta.
    The UA’s first FASA Fiesta was presented in 1996 to bring the Arizona community together and teach people about the Filipino culture.

    “I believe that students should learn about different cultures because I think it is a good way to know a person’s beliefs and values, and events like fiesta is just a pathway to make that connection,” said Lex Manalo, a psychology junior and a member of the UA Filipino American Student Association. “Events like FASA Fiesta are important because I believe the meaning of fiesta is learning about our native roots and experiencing the traditional Filipino culture.”

    However, as the years have passed, other Asian cultures have been represented at FASA Fiesta. The performers are of different Asian nationalities like Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese.

    College should be the time for self-discovery and learning more about the world around us. Students should forget what they have been taught about stereotypes. A person is an individual with their own unique qualities and quirks, regardless of their race or nationality.

    — Cheryl Gamachi is a pre-journalism freshman. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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