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Nov. 28th, 2012 | 03:46 am

I am writing this from a very specific perspective, in the hopes that it will be read by young people like me and some good will come of this. I hope you can learn from it in some way. However, while some of this may be useful, please note these are based on my personal experiences and my family's experiences so I cannot speak for everyone.

The following is some of what I have learned from being raised by a third generation American and his immigrant wife - aka my mother and father.

1) It is not easy growing up multicultural. But it is also beautiful. Embrace it, learn about your roots. So no one can define your identity for you. In this country we all have tendencies to be fascinated with and frightened by cultures we deem as un-American. It is part of the culture here. It is part of being human. We all have inside of us a fear of the unknown. We all have the potential to 'other.' I think learning about your roots can teach you how not to over-exoticize yourself or anyone else. But you must love your roots. I don't expect myself or anyone else to learn every explicit detail about my Filipino or Sicilian roots, or anyone's roots. I am no expert. But I think ultimately this form of cultural competency is the best weapon against ignorance towards our melting pot. And we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

2) I never fit in truly as a Sicilian American or a Filipino American. I will never fit in as a Sicilian in Sicily, a Filipino in the Philippines, or an American in the U.S.. I prefer the company of mixed ethnic backgrounds over one. There are others like me out there, and this is ok. In fact people like us have more fun. And I cannot wait until I can get an EU passport from Italy and one from the Philippines - just because. Yay living in other countries!!!

3) Immigrants get ripped off, shat upon, ridiculed, othered often. It happened to my mother. She has been a survivor of racism, discrimination, and prejudice. She got through it for me and herself and my family. She fought back with education. Education really does make you a winner in these cases, because in the developed world, people can forget that immigrants have crossed oceans, survived corruption in their homelands, survived wars, crossed deserts. Fight back with education. Fight back by voting. There are so many people in this world who do not have running water. Many who see horrible violence and learn how to deal with it because they have to in order to survive. Many who cannot vote, or die trying. Many who only have rocks and fast legs to fight back.

4) My mother was raised middle class in the Philippines. But what she had there is nothing to what she has earned here. Crimes such as people killing others so that they can simply eat. People sleeping in cemetaries as gravestone caretakers because there is no such thing as food stamps, public health clinics, no jobs anywhere in the country. People living in fear of speaking out against their government even though they secretly despise it but stay silent in order to live. This is true in any country with corruption. If you think the U.S. government is bad? It could be worse. I am not speaking about U.S. foreign policy or domestic policy or even how tax dollars are used outside the U.S.. I am talking strictly about how a government deals with its people here in the U.S.. versus the third world. People like my mother did what they had to do there in order to survive, which in many cases meant adhering to a strict conservative lifestyle in order to escape the shit they saw. I am speaking about shit literally and figuratively. Immigrants from these places will raise children in the U.S. in the same way they were taught, except in this society, violence of this sort is rare if you are middle class or lucky enough to live somewhere safe. An authoritative parenting approach is more appropriate because the U.S. is not a war-torn country. The methods of survival are different here in order to succeed. But please forgive your parents, they are only teaching what they know from their homelands.

5) Adjusting to a totally different culture and working in it is not easy if you are an immigrant parent. They may not be there as much for you as a result. Forgive them. My mother had to learn on her own. You have to learn the cultural norms here too. Like how to network, how to talk to your boss, how to send a business email, how to communicate constructively and clearly, how to talk to certain people firmly but graciously. How to be generous, warm, kind, but no-nonsense at once. How to talk to men. How to listen. How to be nice and not sound controlling or passive aggressive. How to talk to teachers. I had to learn all of this on my own through painful lessons, but valuable ones.

6) Iodine deficiency is common in the Philippines due to complications there. Therefore, you will see lots of cases where thyroid disorder occurs. It must be removed and a hormone replacement taken in order to survive. Side effect that is unavoidable? Mood disorder. I had to learn on my own everything listed in number five, because my mother had a thyroid problem. Forgive.

7) To all those Asian kids who feel like they have to live up to some stereotype that the media coined, stop. Aka the model minority stereotype. You may not feel like it is there but if you find yourself a perfectionist or think a B is a bad grade. If you feel like mistakes are failures and not life lessons. Then that means that you are affected by the stereotype. Be successful but don't wear yourself down. Don't forget your happiness. Find a healthy way to de-stress like therapy, yoga, meditation, sleeping enough, art, writing, exercise. Listen to your body and take care of it first! Know your limits!

8) Speaking of therapy: your immigrant parents may not agree with its value. And it's true, finding a good therapist is hard, expensive, and can take time. However, in order to survive here it is a necessity. If you cannot afford it or have parents who don't believe in it, there are affordable or free options there. Don't stop searching. You have to talk about all of the things mentioned above because I feel like there are a lot of cross-overs in terms of growing up multicultural and a child of an immigrant. You are not alone. You have to talk to someone about it, preferably someone who understands your background or you will not succeed in life. Internalizing is not the solution. Keeping busy is only part of the solution but whatever pain you felt doesn't go away completely.

I hope that what I have written makes sense. If any clarification is needed or any questions you might have, please do say so.

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