On Feb. 3, a panel of Asian students came together at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, sharing stories of what they’ve experienced as students at SLCC. These stories illustrated that challenges Asian students face are not far different from those that other, non-Asian students experience.
“We all come from different backgrounds, but we share similarities such as struggles with tests, writing, and financial [problems],” says SLCC student Htet Aung.
Asian Student Voices is part of a series organized by SLCC’s Multicultural Initiatives Department called The Student Voice Project, a program providing information about diverse multicultural experiences in an inviting and educational environment.
SLCC Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Karen Kwan opened the discussion by notifying participants of the discussion’s intent – to hear directly from students about the challenges they have had to overcome in their college career, while also debunking some myths and stereotypes about Asian students.
Dr. Kwan asked five students to introduce themselves and talk about the motivations and challenges they have had while pursuing a college career at SLCC.
Aung, a Communication student at SLCC from Myanmar (Burma), who has been living in the United States for eight years now, says that the main reason why he decided to enroll at SLCC was the affordability and its academic environment.
“The cost of tuition is affordable and the small classes allow me to communicate better with professors,” Aung says.
Aung had to overcome the barrier of language to be able to succeed in school and make friends. At SLCC, he feels welcome and more comfortable participating in class and other extracurricular activities.
Hyng Kyung Moon, an international student from South Korea, has experienced struggles balancing the different roles in her life; being a mother, a wife, a worker and a student.
“I have to divide my time to [fulfill] all my responsibilities,” Moon says.
Moon has had to learn how to prioritize her different roles and find balance in her life while completing her degree in Fashion Design at SLCC.
Moon also had to overcome some cultural differences upon arriving in the US. In her culture, asking questions to professors is seen as challenging their authoritative position.
“It took me about two years to understand that asking questions to teachers was OK,” Moon says.
Vu Tran, a Psychology student at SLCC from Vietnam, says that he arrived in the U.S. when he was two years old.
“When I was growing up I faced bullying experiences,” Tran says. “Bullying is not good, but you have to surround yourself with positive experiences.”
Tran suggests that being an involved student will help anyone to grow as a person.
“Join a club, because it opens opportunities and give you access to information that will help you to succeed in your education,” says Tran.
Matthew Wong, raised in California by parents from China, says that he was attracted to SLCC because of the college’s exceptional instructors and the fact that some of his friends were already attending SLCC.
One of the biggest issues for Wong was dealing with stereotypes commonly attributed to Asians.
“All Asians are supposed to be smart,” Wong says about one stereotype he encounters.
Wong does not feel that he should exert vigorously to fulfill this or any other common stereotypical expectation.
He also expressed that some people have made him feel uncomfortable when they have said he is not a real Asian because he was born in the U.S. and not in China.
“I don’t feel I fall in those stereotypes,” Wong says. “I want to be me.”
Similarly to any other student, Wong, who is pursuing a degree in Architecture, makes his experience at SLCC enjoyable using all the college’s resources available to fulfill his dreams.
Justine Tabligan, a Nursing student at SLCC born in the Philippines, chose SLCC because she wanted to stay near home.
Although financial issues and challenging classes sometimes worry her, Tabligan has not allowed unfavorable circumstances to hinder her academic goals.
“We face challenges over time,” Tabligan says.
Although she didn’t qualify for Federal Student Aid, Tabligan has managed to find other economic resources to continue pursuing her degree.
These stories dispel stereotypes and myths about Asian students and illustrate that they are students with struggles, dreams and triumphs similar to any other typical college student.