Cultural Identity and Expectations: A Comparison of Pham and Myself

Categories: Mandala

The book Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham relates a lot to include stories and situations throughout my childhood that I can relate toand young adult life. PhamHe vividly explains vividly his life in America along with his travels back to the homeland. Through his journey to Vietnam, Pham discovers himself and hisexplains to us his life, which in some cases is similar to the identity, issues regarding educational expectations, and cultural conflict in America here in America for me. Reading the book I see Pham and the situations he is put in, also seeing myself, but the only difference is the way he and I handle the scenarios given at hand.

Through the essay you will see how our lives are similar but yet different.

Pham travels to Vietname to search for his roots in hopes to construct his identity.For Pham in the search of his identity he flies to Vietnam to ride his bike, and also to find his roots.

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As he first gets off the airplane he is already is immediately receiving dirty aware of others who looklooksat him disdainfully because he is a viet-kieu which means foreign Vietnamese. Then as he is at the baggage claim While retrieving his luggage, to his amazement he sees the workers tear up his bike which had been stuck in the claim belt. That hit a soft spot in him because that bike had been through so much with Pham. From then on his impressions of Vietnamese people were bad, He developed a negative impression of Vietnamese people and he automatically thought of them as a lower class persons than Americans human than he was.

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Pham in order to go back to his roots needs to humble himself as a true Vietnamese. Then he will understand his identity and appreciate his culture.

Growing up Korean in white America was different. As a child I was sometimes embarressedembarrassed to be Korean. I wanted to be white because then I knew I would have been more accepted by the majority population.nt have as tough of a time growing up, because everywhere you go there is bound to be lots of white people. At times I also wanted to be black, because I loved playing sports and I wanted to one day become a professional football player.go pro to the NFL one day. But growing up and going through experiencing the racial comments, the fights, and more fights, and then and learning more about myself and my heritage, helped me to be proud to say that I wasam Korean.

Some can say Korean American, but to me I consider myself Korean because that is what I am, and what I was born to be. I am a Korean living in America, but I can also say that I am a Korean in China, no matter where I am, I will always be Korean. For me I am lucky that I realized my identity at a younger age than Pham, because it clears up a lot of confusion about who I am, while Phan at an older age is still trying to find himself, and his purpose..

For me realizing my identity was good, but knowing that I also had to come to realize the expectations with being Korean. Since Pham was the oldest child, For Pham being the first son his parentsfather had high educational expectations on him for him. were the highest, sending him to a private school hoping hed come out making all the money for the family. Pham was the only child sent to a private school in Vietnam. In college, Pham did well excelled in school makingattaining membership in Phi Betta Kappa, and eventually then landing a good job out of collegesecured an engineering position after college. It was only the recession that hurt him from supporting the family. (What does this last sentence mean? I dont remember any reference to Pham losing his job from a recession he quit his job for his Vietnam tour. Use an example or quote from the book to support this last sentence or delete). You can also add more in this section about Phams fathers expectations.

Remember that his father didnt consider artists and the sort as real professionals? Those are the types of quotes and examples that you should include in the last paragraph.

In the Korean culture, education is a priorityschool is stressed the most. Nothing else matters than getting good grades. In my family, I am different from the rest. out of all our relatives I am the most different from the rest. Whereas Aall of my cousins went to the best high schools and colleges, and now have very well high paying jobs. While me on the other hand, alsol was sent to a private elementary school, and did not get into the prestigious private high school my brother had gone

gotten into. So I went to another private school which happened to be the arch rival of the first. Books were not my priority, and although my parents stressed that everyday of my young life, it wasnt going through to me as it did my cousins. I was more more interested in into sports and my parents were wondering where they went wrong. When it came around to colleges, I did not get into any but the easiest state school. And again, my parents compared me to all my cousins, and how they got into the best colleges. I decided to go to the local city college in San Francisco, only because they had the best football team in the nation for city colleges. I did better in school, but it was only because the football coach picked my classes for me in order to get into Davis. Despite my personal interest in sports, my parents constantly questioned my motives and blamed themselves for lacking the academic success for which my family praises my cousins.

In this aspect I am different than Pham, because at least he did well in school early in life and made his parents proud, although later there was some conflict because his decision to be a freelancer. I on the other hand did not receive any academic awards or did not have the best grades not even average, but I did make them proud with the athletic awards which I received. For my parents expectations I did not meet, but hoped to have pleased them through other ways.

The last experience Phams life was also filled with had gone through was cultural conflicts. There are two ways in which one can explain it. The first is not knowing who you are, and the second is His cultural conflict was due to the differences between Amerian and Vietnamese beliefs and practices, experiencing a conflict within different cultures. In Vietnam, Pham although in Vietnam still considered himself as an American. at times and only said he was Vietnamese just to save himself. He felt as though he was superior to the mainland Vietnamese people because he was from the states United States.

(This previous paragraph is good, but you need to add actual examples to show how you know that he felt superior to Vietnamese there are several examples you can find when he first arrives in Vietnam at the airport.)

Which brings conflict because that shows that America has changed and spoiled him. He was not use to living the Vietnamese life, and it took him a while in order to finally realize what he needed to do to become Vietnamese again and adjust.

Another was experiencing conflict while in AmericaAlthough not convinced that he was a true Vietnamese, Pham also questioned whether he was a true American. In one incident, Asas he rode his bike up North from San Francisco, these truckers gave him a sense of reality, as if he lived in America but wasnt really American. He did not have the blond hair, blue eyes we were all so use to. He had black hair brown eyes, and for that he had water spilled all over him, which woke him up to how America still hasnt changed through the years.

(You got the right idea of using an example where white men yelled racist remarks at him from the road. You should include that example to show that although he though of himself as American, others still considered him a foreigner.)

My experiences as a Korean American are similar to Phams.As for me being born and raised in America there was plenty of conflict from the start, but I always fought back. However, whenever confronted with racist remarks or other derogatory words, I fought back. Whether being ridiculed by whites or other Asians, there were constant cultural conflicts. While I may have Asian physical features, I refused to have others intimidate me or dictate who I could associate with.For me fighting back helped me to let the ignorant people know that we were not passive and to help them watch what they say to the next Asian person. Being in college I thought that type of ignorance would die out, but there have been many incidents with cultural conflicts leading to brawls. For example the

incidetns at Arlington Farms and then at the Rocks. My friends here in Davis are just like me, and they dont take kindly to ignorant people that cause conflicts. The other is although I have neve

r been to the homeland, I still get these dirty looks from other Koreans here in America, because I am totally not Asian washed.

Back Even in high school the typical Asians that always hung out with just only other Asians sometimes called me a sellout because I never hung out with them. And that I always was with the athletes, like the whites and blacks. The Asians did not understand why I hung out with them, but that these athletes were different then the Asians were. I didnt fit any of the Asian stereotypes, so my friends in the city would say, because I did not do well in school, I wasnt interested into racing cars, I liked all types of different girls of different racial backgrounds, and I played sports. Pham and I had our share of both experienced culture conflicts within our own ethnic group, as well as with others, but the only difference was that he did not fight back., he would just reach for his pepper spray which I think was very cowardly of him. Only when he learned to accept himself as both Vietnamese and American was he able to find his true identity.

(If this last paragraph is for the bonus question, please put on a separate sheet of paper should be one page in length)

After reading the book I learned a lot about Pham and my life. I realized that the life I have now is a blessing, and that I should be grateful for what I have instead of crying over what I dont. Seeing what Phams family had gone through reminds me a lot of what my parents had went through because of the Korean war. I realized that I am truly blessed with all I have and the people around me. Looking through Phams eyes I see myself, caught in many of the same situations he has, but the only difference is what we do about the situation at hand.

Updated: Feb 21, 2024
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Cultural Identity and Expectations: A Comparison of Pham and Myself. (2022, Feb 26). Retrieved from

Cultural Identity and Expectations: A Comparison of Pham and Myself essay
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