Out of the Blend | Teen Ink

Out of the Blend

June 18, 2009
By Junia Zhang BRONZE, San Diego, California
Junia Zhang BRONZE, San Diego, California
4 articles 15 photos 0 comments

I believe in an American Dream. Not the idealized Dream, with its flowery house and white picket fence, but in the dream of coming to this nation that all immigrants have, that my father had.
Ever since I was old enough to recognize the cultural differences between China, where my parents grew up, and America, where I was born, I have often wondered what would have happened to me if my dad had not come to study here. Most likely, I would have never lifted a tennis racket or studied the Journalism Code of Ethics. I probably would not have learned how to speak Spanish or eaten a California burrito or understood true freedom. Then again, there is the scary idea that I would not have known what it was like to grow up in China either, because of the one-child policy.
I am thankful to have been born and raised in America, where my parents have fulfilled their American Dream, where a strong belief in human rights has dominated countless movements, and where cultures are free to collide and merge into one melting pot.
In my own English class, we had a discussion about whether or not the American Dream still exists in the developed world today. What I do know is that it came true for my parents, who came from the lingering ends of the Cultural Revolution and built the stable lifestyle I grew up in.
My parents sometimes tell me stories of what growing up under Mao Zedong was like; how his oppression started from the nation's heart in Beijing, where my mother lived, and branched all the way to my father’s home in northeastern Shenyang. My dad did not have school when he was a kid because of the Revolution policies. He whiled away his time running around his neighborhood and helping the generations of his family around their one-story home.
My friends and I sometimes complain about our parents being “so Asian." But I also have realized that it is because our immigrant parents have undergone hardships to come to America in the first place that they want us to take advantage of the privileges we have here.
The American Dream may or may not exist anymore. People in China today have much more improved lives than those did during the Cultural Revolution. Students at my school will probably continue to blame the Asian culture when a kid is unhappy with a B, or goes to SAT prep classes over the summer instead of the beach, or studies on a Friday night. While stereotypes like these and countless others still exist everywhere, ultimately, America is and always has been a country where cultures freely fuse together and then form individuals out of the blend.
In this way, I believe that America does not need to be defined in the specific terms of the American Dream, but as a nation of individuality which, after hearing stories from another world, I am grateful to have.

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