In a world where diversity exists, it is not surprising that people want to be identified with a particular race or group. This makes them feel like they belong and that they have a background to which they can identify themselves with. It is important, therefore, to have a racial identity. However, some people use this as a basis of putting judgment to others and as a determinant of others' capabilities, which is not right because a person's identity cannot be measured just by looking at his or her race.
I am of Asian descent, particularly Korean, and I have to say that I am proud of where I came from. Korea is a beautiful country and the people are very kind and hospitable. It is a place rich in culture and customs that date back to the early times. Although we have kept up with the changing of times, there are still those who would like to keep the country's culture and tradition alive, which limits their ability to grow as individuals. This is the reason why I decided to travel to the United States and study. I believe that this move will help me grow as a person and expand my horizons but I still try to remember where I came from just to remind me of my culture and my race.
There have been many instances throughout my stay in the United States where my racial identity was tested. I was surprised that even though United States is a diverse country, there are still those who feel that they are more superior to others just because of their color and race. It was very hard for me to fit in at first because I looked different and I spoke differently. I came to realize that I had to look for people like me who are of Asian descent or those who belong to the minority to have friends and obtain support from because we experience the same things and feel the same things regarding our stay in this foreign land.
The first difference that I noticed was culturally different Koreans were when compared with Americans, or other races for that matter. Koreans, and Asians in general, are very conservative with the way they think, act, speak, and even dress. We have great respect for elders and try very hard to follow what they say. Traditions and beliefs are important to us and we take these seriously, even allowing them to lead how me live our lives. As such, coming to the United States was a complete shock to me because the people are more liberal than us. Children are raised to become independent individuals who can act and think freely but still with the guidance of their parents. I also noticed that Americans have fewer traditions and beliefs than other minorities like Asians. Most of them do not believe in superstition and customs simply because they are practical and realistic people.
As if this culture shock was not enough, I had the difficult experience of trying to communicate because of language barriers. I have to admit that I was not as knowledgeable in the English language the first time I came to the United States as compared to the present time. I could not go out of the house alone for fear of being lost because my English was that bad. At school, I usually kept to myself and was very quiet and reserved, speaking only when it was needed or when someone talks to me. It was hard because I felt that people did not want to approach me because they also know that it would be hard to communicate with me. This made me realize that I needed to exert an effort to learn the language so that I would not have a hard time trying to fit in or even just to be understood. I cannot make these people learn the Korean language and because I am the one living in their country, I should be the one to adjust.
Although the United States has grown as a country in terms of its diversity, I still had the chance to feel the effects of racism. It was not easy but I have learned how to deal with it realizing that many people are not really aware that they are being judgmental and critical of others just because of their skin color and appearance. At school, like other minorities, I was usually ignored and was stereotyped as weak and was more into academics than other activities. It was not hard, therefore, to stick with the likes of me and stay away from the limelight. This made it easier for me to stay away from trouble and concentrate on my studies. It was fairly easier when I dealt with people from the outside because they only think that I have problems communicating and not that I am weak or stupid.
My experiences are not as pleasant as I would like them to be. However, without these experiences, I would not be who I am today and I would not be able to grow as a person. I do not believe that such things are needed to make a person grow but they certainly help open one's eyes to the reality of the world. It makes one realize that everyone is different and that not all people are open to these differences.
It is important to state that racial identity is essential to one's personality and character. It reflects their background and where they came from. Without it, a person would seem incomplete and he or she would feel lost. This is why people should not take it against a person if they belong to a certain race or group. No one should feel superior or inferior to another just because of their racial identity.