In Their Own Words:
The Diverse Perspectives of
Being Asian in America

In the fall of 2021, Pew Research Center undertook the largest focus group study it had ever conducted – 66 focus groups with 264 total participants – to hear Asian Americans talk about their lived experiences in America. The focus groups were organized into 18 distinct Asian ethnic origin groups, fielded in 18 languages and moderated by members of their own ethnic groups.

These quotes reflect participants’ initial reaction to the question: “What does it mean to be you in America?” Many of the participants told us this was the first time they were ever asked this question. Others told us their answers to this question had evolved over time.

Use this interactive to sort focus group quotes by ethnic origin nativity (immigrant or U.S. born), years lived in the U.S. (for immigrant participants), gender and age. To start, choose an origin group or select “view all quotes” to see responses from all focus group participants.

What does it mean to be …

… living in America?

Selected quotes from all focus group participants
“Be a fighter, or something like that. If you would like to stay here, you will encounter many disadvantages and need to be brave. … I’m a very shy and quiet person at first, but I can’t be like that in USA.”
Immigrant man of Thai origin, 40 (translated from Thai)
“There are just so many different subgroups of Asians and all that stereotype gets lumped into all Asians. But each Asian ethnicity has their own struggles. When you just lump in that one stereotype with the whole, it’s very difficult for the people underrepresented to kind of fight. So I think it’s a tough issue. I don’t even know how to answer.”
U.S.-born man of Chinese origin, 30
“[While they’re young our children] can do whatever [they] want to do. [Here] it is freedom, but if [they were] in India, [they] would have become a part of the competition from a young age.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 46 (translated from Hindi)
“I think because we came to this country, in this country, they always provide opportunity to you to choose your path, it’s never easy, you may have [people] try to stop you or suppress you or things like that. But you always have an opportunity. If you want to start a business, there is no one to hold you back. If you want to study and go to college, there is no one to prevent you but there are programs to help you. If you want to live anywhere in this country, there is no one who will prevent you from living there. So, coming from us where you are born, you don’t have an opportunity. You don’t have a chance to do that. Our sons still have opportunity that maybe the parents will send them to go to school. So, I think that we come, we Hmong in America, we have an opportunity to advance ourselves towards the things we want, or our goals. I think that’s why, that’s why I wrote that down to be the first, like, for example, like [Sunisa Lee], she has the opportunity … to become the first Hmong Olympian right? So yeah, that, I don’t think that happens anywhere else, I think if we lived in another country longer than we have lived here in America, speaking of us Hmong people, we would not have had opportunity like we have had since we came to this country.”
Immigrant man of Hmong origin, 39 (translated from Hmong)
“In the 1980s, when Mr. Morita of Sony was famous … we could be proud of being Japanese, but [not so much now].”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 62 (translated from Japanese)
“To be Vietnamese in America you have to be like strong, hardworking and fun.”
U.S.-born woman of Vietnamese origin, 22
“How will you be able to get yourself promoted? … You have to learn new skills, improve, make sure that you achieve a milestone in your life every year. Especially if it’s something that you really want to achieve. It also won’t be given to you, if you don’t ask for it. You really have to do your part.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 38
“We lived in Korea and came here. We are mainstream. But when children are born here, they are Asian by birth, and I am worried because they do not have a connection to Korea.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 33 (translated from Korean)
“Friendly; spiritual; helpful.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 44
“For me growing up and still today it was always about like saving face, showing a good impression so that all people around us would think positive of Japanese people. So one example would be when we would go stay in hotels my dad would make us make the bed, clean the bathroom, and of course as a kid you just do what your parents tell you to do. And he would always say, well we don’t want people to think bad of Japanese people so we want to leave the place clean so they think that we’re clean and we’re respectful. And now as an adult it’s like, the maid cleans it, why do I have to do this? But they were always like, don’t talk back in public, do not argue in public, you know, be respectful. And then also just being true to your word, getting good grades, being a good student, being a good worker. So it was more about modeling things to other people to give the entire Japanese race a good name or a good face.”
U.S.-born woman of Japanese origin, 50
“Whenever I go out like with my family … when they don’t see someone for really long, everyone has to be flashy with what they wear and then there’s also the bill-fighting, fighting for the bill when we go out to eat, too. That was what came to my mind.”
U.S.-born man of Vietnamese origin, 25
“[Nepalese are] hardworking, religious and accepting [of] others’ cultural differences. … Whatever the background we come from, we have adapted now, no matter how difficult it was before – we [also] ask for help. And mostly what I have noticed is people are diverse within Nepalese. For example, Sherpa, Tibetan, Gurung. Whatever the religious and cultural differences we have, Nepalese help and support each other.”
Immigrant woman of Nepalese origin, 25 (translated from Nepali)
“I think it is about identity, because you are not only a separate group like you used to be in China, all of you are Chinese. After you come here, your identity has changed. I think your mind needs a shift too. You should … understand your identity in accordance with the American cultural environment.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 31 (translated from Mandarin)
“I think every culture is unique, every ethnic group is unique. We [Hmong] are unique too in our own ways. Just our struggles of how we migrated to the States, how we contributed to growing America, I think that’s very unique. We are a very extremely family oriented ethnic group. And like I shared with you earlier, I grew up with Filipinos, and Chinese, and Vietnamese [people], and they don’t have that same structure or family bond like us Hmongs do. … [I also think] Hmong people are very prideful and cliquey. I don’t see that we’re open to making friends outside of our group for some odd reason … I come here and if you go to [a list of local bars], or any of those bars, 99.9% are Hmong people and to me that’s weird. Where are all the other ethnic groups? How come they’re not coming to our bars? How come they’re not coming to our restaurants? How come they’re not coming to our sports festivals? … I think we should have pride in our culture, but we should also open up to others.”
U.S.-born man of Hmong origin, 42
“I don’t know. Growing up here, I never felt that Chinese was much different from other people. It was just until this past year. People have been attacking Asians, but this never happened as I grew up in the U.S. all these years.”
U.S.-born woman of Chinese origin, 36
“I feel that as an ethnic Chinese in the United States, when you mention the term ‘ethnic Chinese,’ it is easy to link it with another term ‘integration,’ or even the two words ‘difficult integration.’ Why are Chinese always associated with these words ‘hard to integrate’? I think it may be the genes in our Chinese culture. It is very difficult for the Chinese people. Chinese people always yearn for class mobility, or class rise. In this process, Chinese people are in the society of the United States. Why do they often ignore things unrelated to them? And why do they seem difficult to get integrated ostensibly. I don’t think it’s because the Chinese don’t want to fight for more interests. It is believed that the Chinese feel they are in their own way, in the most efficient way that they think to achieve the class rise in their minds. So, in this process, it is inevitable to trade off some superficial integration. So I don’t think this is a problem. I feel that this is the choice of the Chinese people.”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 30 (translated from Mandarin)
“Vietnamese people are very diligent, hardworking, and often help each other, especially those who just came or just moved from another state. If someone needs help, people will help with jobs as well as [finding] an accommodation. [Also] they have a desire for progress.”
Immigrant man of Vietnamese origin, 49 (translated from Vietnamese)
“[Being Filipino in the U.S. means] hard work, [being] reliable, strength in numbers.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 32
“[Being Bangladeshi in the U.S. means having a] nice life, good education, good future.”
Immigrant woman of Bangladeshi origin, 52 (translated from Bengali)
“[It means feeling] proud, appreciative and kind of inferior. I guess inferior because like, kind of similar to what Hiroki was saying, I wasn’t like the top student. So I would kind of – I mean people expected me to kind of be the smartest. Good at math. The smartest kid in class. I felt inferior to my cousins or like the other Japanese kids. I felt like I wasn’t as good as them in terms of being smart. I’m also proud to be Japanese … I really love Japanese culture … I like being American, but I also really like being Japanese, so I guess I’m appreciative to be kind of both.”
U.S.-born man of Japanese origin, 27
“People prefer Bhutanese as a nanny for their kids. This is because we do the work wholeheartedly, take care of the kids with compassion and kindness and on top being a Buddhist, compassion is well observed in us even by the parents.”
Immigrant woman of Bhutanese origin, 49 (translated from Dzongkha)
“I know that I am proud to be Sri Lankan. Many people recognize Sri Lankans with our literacy level. … And many people say that Sri Lankans are very kind people. So it doesn’t matter what ethnicity. Whenever we say [Sri Lanka], they say, ‘OMG, Sri Lanka? They’re very kind people.’”
Immigrant man of Sri Lankan origin, 48 (translated from Sinhala)
“In my opinion, Vietnamese people here are very diligent and hardworking. In general, they really hope to improve relationships [and] take care of family life. In here as well as in Vietnam.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 43 (translated from Vietnamese)
“I’m a newcomer [to my job] and I feel like my position is like a temporary staff [in an office, being looked down on by full-time employees]. If you stay longer, you are better. Now I kind of understand why some Japanese avoid Japanese community. They don’t like such atmosphere.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 47 (translated from Japanese)
“[I’d say] smart, but I notice that my parents didn’t really have that high of expectations and I see the other Chinese people, they really have high expectations, but we don’t have that.”
U.S.-born woman of Vietnamese origin, 19
“[I think] that Vietnamese people are very hardworking and successful. I’m also lucky to be in this country, and I have my freedom.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 55 (translated from Vietnamese)
“The Americans are not interested in other races because they are personal. Especially, they are not interested in Koreans like me. That’s why I am free. Overall, in Korea, I am judged, compared, or [tired] both physically and mentally. If one goes to [a good] school, [others have to follow that example], and if someone says that stroller is good, everyone should buy it. I didn’t like such Korean culture. It is not the culture of Korea as a whole, but I didn’t like it. I think it’s nice to be able to live independently and live my own way without anyone caring or comparing me because I’m free and not mainstream here.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 44 (translated from Korean)
“[People here] are also easy to accept our culture, and they also appreciate it very much. Because I’m a member of a special traditional dance [group] for Indonesia, so every time we hold a show, the tickets are always sold out. So they appreciate it more. And here we are also thinking, why am I not like that in Indonesia? Why not be more appreciative of our own culture?”
Immigrant woman of Indonesian origin, 38 (translated from Indonesian)
“[Being Taiwanese means] people who are ethnically Chinese. [That is] a broader definition [and you] can avoid many political arguments.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 47 (translated from Mandarin)
“As a Chinese, you don’t have the same opportunities as the Whites, like becoming a departmental manager. There are many high-tech companies here. I’m not a high-tech person, but my husband often tells me that it is difficult for Chinese to reach high positions. Director level would be impossible. Most of the time, they won’t promote you, so you have to ‘always prove yourself by hard working.’ For example, you have to exert yourself more than others, otherwise you can’t grasp the opportunity. Competition is fierce here, even among Chinese, so you have to invest in a lot of effort, with frequent overtime. There are jobs that the Whites don’t want to do, but the Chinese would fight for such opportunities. For the children, we think that it is important for Chinese to be able to speak the Chinese language, so I always want them to speak and learn Chinese, and tell them it is important for them as Chinese.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 47 (translated from Mandarin)
“Not long ago, I went to Korea and came back after about three and a half months. Now, Korea has developed so much that I wonder why I received (U.S.) citizenship. Still, if you want to live [comfortably] with the same amount of money, I don’t think there is anywhere comparable to the United States. Competition between stores is fierce. If there are 50 coffee shops in America, I think Korea has 5,000.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 48 (translated from Korean)
“We’re part of the population of the world. So, we can contribute to something in the world, especially Indonesia. For example … Indonesia’s flora and fauna have a huge influence on [the science] world. And then, here’s the most important one … every time we meet Indonesians, the question we ask is ‘Where are you from?’ We will answer ‘I am from [city in Indonesia].’ Then, comes ‘from Indonesia.’ … The third [thing], I can say that America, or the world, knows Bali, but not Indonesia. They thought Bali was part of another country. … They know Bali, but they don’t know Bali is just a small part of Indonesia. That’s what I’ve always emphasized, that Bali is really beautiful, Bali is great, but it’s just a tiny fraction of Indonesia.”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 42 (translated from Indonesian)
“[As a Pakistani] the main thing is that you [are] carrying a culture from a conservative society to a very open society. [Your home environment and] language [are also important].”
Immigrant man of Pakistani origin, 61 (translated from Urdu)
“[Anyone] who speaks Nepali, they speak in Nepali when they see a Nepali. They don’t speak in English. … Although we study English in Nepal, we don’t have much practice. … And whoever Nepalese I see, I think they have come here to work hard for their better future or for the better future of their family back in our country. And I think most of the Nepalese are laborious.”
Immigrant man of Nepalese origin, 45 (translated from Nepali)
“Being Asian, we’re not going to be racially profiled like other groups. For example, I was still living in New York City during ‘stop and frisk’ and I had a lot of friends that were Hispanic and Black that would get stopped. I didn’t get stopped. You know what I mean? Like, we are minorities but it’s like we don’t get the racism that other groups get. It’s almost like I feel relieved. I know it’s different to say that but … that to me has been one advantage of being Asian, except when you talk about the Asian hate crimes that have been happening over the last year.”
U.S.-born man of Filipino origin, 43
“I like Vietnamese people because they are very close and friendly. … I meet Vietnamese people in the U.S., I live a life like your Vietnamese friends and I feel very close to my homeland.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 51 (translated from Vietnamese)
“First, we [Indonesians] are more open. Maybe because we live with many people from different backgrounds, so we are more open to each other. [We are also] independent for sure since we are far from family. … Indonesia has many ethnicities, languages and cultures, as well as foods. … Indonesia is about unity in diversity, and we have different ethnicities. As an Asian in the U.S., I have my own challenges. Because the U.S. has so many differences. For instance, when we enter a house owned by an Indonesian, we have to take off our shoes. Meanwhile, when we enter an American’s house, we don’t have to take them off. The third point is, we have more opportunities [in the U.S.]. Especially women, because in Indonesia women definitely have to become mothers when they are married. Now we have the opportunity to pursue a career, for example, and are more open in raising children, so there is not much input from the family.”
Immigrant woman of Indonesian origin, 39 (translated from Indonesian)
“[Indian people bring] food, growth and culture, because our food is very different. … Our clothes are different, very colorful … Indian culture is very diverse and different. What people don’t know is that there are different types of Indians like South Indian, North Indian, Malayalee and mix … so there are many different festivals. Like Onam, Diwali, Baisakhi, so that is why I said that food, clothes and culture are very diverse.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 30 (translated from Hindi)
“[There are] cultural differences. For instance, Thai people tend to be quiet when they enter the same [elevator], but foreigners tend to be more friendly and approach people. At first, I stayed quiet, but now I express some greetings or say ‘have a nice day’ with the [people I don’t know]. It helps me a lot with my confidence.”
Immigrant man of Thai origin, 30 (translated from Thai)
“High tech; democracy; [being Taiwanese means being] ethnically Chinese and will be mistaken as [a] Chinese national; love to make money [and] eat strange food.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 41 (translated from Mandarin)
“I feel many times that we are a small group of people. When we say Sri Lankan, many people do not know about it, they ask where it is, is it in India? Many people ask if it is a part of the Indian state. When they ask like that we feel that we are unknown to many people. And those who have heard about Sri Lanka only in the news who knows about Sri Lanka and never been to Sri Lanka, know only about the war in Sri Lanka. They ask about the war, cricket and tea. Apart from these three, there is the question of how to represent and educate us.”
Immigrant man of Sri Lankan origin, 33 (translated from Sinhala)
“[Our] food, [our] language, [being] Fil-Am.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 27
“One day, I asked a patient of mine [what they knew about Sri Lankans]. [He] said that we respect other people, we are clean, and we are very loving. When he said it, I was very happy as he was an Italian. … So when we call them and say that one from Sri Lanka is coming, they are very happy.”
Immigrant woman of Sri Lankan origin, 27 (translated from Sinhala)
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 47
“When you put yourself in my shoes, I think Whites think you look younger and have to be protected. One day, I went to gas station but I wasn’t able to park well because I was not a good driver. So someone helped me refuel and pay $40. It was a man … when I told males about this, they said that they had never had such an experience. It is said that Asian women have received such a favor … I get a lot of favors like buying coffee or lifting heavy objects. I am an adult in Korea, but Americans think of me a small Asian girl. They think my age is also in my early 20s. Do you know what it’s feeling like? I’m a person who works and settles down in the United States, but when others see me, I’m a different person. Why did you come? Why did you come all the way from Korea? What are you doing? I can see that on their faces.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 27 (translated from Korean)
“If I explain about Indonesia to non-Asians, perhaps they don’t know much about Indonesia. So, I will explain to them that Indonesia has rich cultural heritage, food, language and clothes. In addition, Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country. However, many people think that Muslims are Arabs. … However, Indonesian people … are mostly Muslims [too].”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 31 (translated from Indonesian)
“[Being Filipino in the U.S. means] diligent, competent, [having to] sacrifice.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 30
“Living here gave me a freedom of speech in sharing my opinion. Second, we can believe in different religions, freedom of belief in religion. Freedom of sharing opinion, and freedom of speech.”
Immigrant man of Cambodian origin, 77 (translated from Khmer)
“[The difference is] in accent. … Someone told me, you are South Asian or you are Indian but you are not Indian American. Because you’re not born here. Often times it is heard in the mainstream that you are Indian but not Indian American. … Meaning if you have taken birth here then you are [Indian American]. [And] I think there is a born accent and an acquired accent, other than that I don’t think there is any difference.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 35 (translated from Hindi)
“As Sri Lankans we work with great interest at the places where we work. Sri Lankan people have a reputation among the American people, as we are a trustworthy, very hardworking group of people. I am really very proud of it.”
Immigrant woman of Sri Lankan origin, 59 (translated from Sinhala)
“[We] should not lose our culture and tradition. [As] Bhutanese when we gather and meet, we preserve our culture and tradition and on this I highly appreciate [us].”
Immigrant woman of Bhutanese origin, 49 (translated from Dzongkha)
“No matter how long we live, even if we adapt to the culture and speak English fluently, [immigrants are] strangers and a minority. [But at] school, there are more and more leaders of Korean nationality or race, and there will be more in the next generations. I think Koreans have the potential to become better leaders in school and in the community.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 37 (translated from Korean)
“They all say that we Chinese are very united and very hardworking. With our family background and education, we all care about the future of our children.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 32 (translated from Mandarin)
“The first thing I found lovely when I came here was the traditional Japanese crafts. … When I was young and I was in Japan, I didn’t think much of it, but now, when I see Japanese crafts, I find they are so good in the shops in Little Tokyo. Also, when I went back to Japan … I happened to visit Asakusa to see traditional things and traditional crafts, or something like the Tohoku product exhibition. One day [a] Hokkaido product exhibition was held in Mitsuwa, a Japanese supermarket. I thought like, ‘Oh it’s good and delicious, only Japanese people can do this.’ [I don’t] sell [these things], but I still feel proud of it. It’s not my own job, but I feel it’s our culture.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 45 (translated from Japanese)
“[Indians in the U.S. bring] language, food and culture. [We are also] respectful, loyal and generous. [Indian people have] big hearts. We give more and take less.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 20 (translated from Hindi)
“To help each other.”
Immigrant man of Vietnamese origin, 60 (translated from Vietnamese)
“After coming to the United States, we earn a living. I don’t think there’s anything grand. I think Koreans stay out of the American society a bit like outsiders. That’s because we’re not deeply rooted in the United States. For Asians, especially Koreans, when I think about my surroundings, it seems that they are sincere and compliant and do not cause much trouble.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 49 (translated from Korean)
“When talking about Thai people in USA, I see that they came here for three reasons. The first is ‘to follow their dream’ like me. The second is ‘to improve the quality of life and their family’ like relocating for better education. I have been a scholarship student since getting [my] scholarship … in 2007, and recently, I got a scholarship to study English … I want to tell the world that Thai people in USA take [opportunity] seriously and are not inferior to any country. A friend of mine [was] working at a donut shop and encountered bad people … I don’t know why they love to insult Asians. I ask my friend which degree are you studying and he told me it’s Ph.D., I was stunned and told him that he came so far to improve himself.”
Immigrant man of Thai origin, 43 (translated from Thai)
“It’s about the future, a better future and the hope for changes. The U.S. is a major democratic country, and so is Taiwan. But they are different. That is why we want to come here to observe how a real democracy works. How does a real two-party system work? Thirdly, as a Taiwanese living in the U.S., we want to understand what the U.S. stance on Taiwan is. That is whether they recognize Taiwan as a country. Different people may have different views. This is a much-debated issue. I personally do not have any specific inclination.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 37 (translated from Mandarin)
“I believe that I will always be Indian in America. I might not be able to become an American Indian. … One who is born in America is American, and one who is from Indian descent is an Indian, and if he has come from outside and is an immigrant then whether he is, Indian or Spanish … it will always [stay] the same. It will probably be very difficult to change [their identity].”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 36 (translated from Hindi)
“I am sad that [we] don’t have a [country we] can represent. … The not good thing is that we don’t have an identity … but the good thing about us not having a country is that we always have opportunity [to plant our Hmong roots anywhere]. Just like you see that we don’t have a country, but we have opportunities to come to this country like [Olympic gymnast Sunisa Lee]. Her parents came from the old country and carried our Hmong name altogether too. … [If we go to new countries and do well, we still can proclaim our name loudly more than if we only have a little country.] So see if you can use that opportunity like this now that we live everywhere, to be loud, do good and do it together … our name will always be really loud. To me this is the most important thing.”
Immigrant woman of Hmong origin, 56 (translated from Hmong)
“I think being Lao is like – America is very, very, very diverse. I have family members who are like gangsters, I have family members who [work in international affairs] – there’s just so many things that we could become and do over here in the U.S. and it’s based on what we choose. But I’d say most Lao people, they enjoy to party – we’re also very humble. Like even the gangsters, they come – they grow up and they start to realize like it’s about family, it’s about helping our parents and whatever.”
U.S.-born man of Laotian origin, 25
“[It means being] immigrants from Taiwan, [being part of the] ethnic Chinese diaspora, [having] life changes.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 52 (translated from Mandarin)
“I can say that I am very lucky to be in the U.S. Vietnamese people in the U.S. are very hardworking, and they are also very happy because of the U.S. government’s support.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 48 (translated from Vietnamese)
“From my point of view as a newcomer [to my job], there seems to be a hierarchy among [the Japanese at my workplace]. For example, they’re like, ‘She came here just with a visa.’ ‘I have a green card.’ ‘I got the citizenship.’ They are showing off such kind of things and competing each other, and I feel like I’m observing it.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 47 (translated from Japanese)
“[We bring Indian] language, then food and then culture. … And here we mold our Indian upbringing in such a way that the way we work, the way we work be it in the morning, in the evening or at night, we do our work with sincerity, honesty. We are loyal … and we hold the path of truth. [I believe] Indian Americans [have lower crime rates] than the rest of the communities.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 49 (translated from Hindi)
“[Being Pakistani in the U.S. means] wary, upstanding, invisible.”
U.S.-born man of Pakistani origin, 30
“Buddhist, engaged and capable. [First,] being capable. As somebody who has family that survived the dark years, I recognize … being given the opportunity here in the United States to set myself with a high standard, to set myself up with goals and dreams and ambitions for what I want to do. And why do I say engaged? Well, for me to represent the people that I grew up with, I have to be out there and I can’t just be in my own bubble, and I have to be out in different spaces, spaces that challenge me in order for me to develop myself with a mature mind, a very globalized mind, and in many ways, a very modern mind. And why would I say Buddhist? … Because my grandfather was a devout Buddhist, because he was raised in the Buddhism that existed before the Khmer Rouge which meant that he not only knew how to recite the chants … he can actually translate it.”
U.S.-born man of Cambodian origin, 30
“I was kind of growing up [with an emphasis on] school. I was pressured to do good in school. So people would always assume I would be the smartest and have good grades in math and stuff like that.”
U.S.-born man of Japanese origin, 42
“America is good. Living in America is better than living in Laos, and they assist us with everything. In Laos, I don’t have retirement money, nothing over there. Here in America, they help us all, so it’s better. It’s convenient.”
Immigrant woman of Laotian origin, 85 (translated from Lao)
“[As Taiwanese, we’re a] minority within people who are ethnically Chinese. [We’re] united, friendly, [we] look different [and follow] Confucianism.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 24 (translated from Mandarin)
“We’re given an opportunity to do things we want to do, to discover who we truly are, what we want to be in the future. We’re kind of given a little bit of a – I guess you could say a gap to take our time, to really think about what we want to do. … It’s a good idea to at least think about, you know, do I really want to be a doctor? Do I really want to be a lawyer? Do I just want to sit home, maybe relax one day, and then just go off and adventure? [Also,] we often kind of lose our culture [because of pressure from other people]. How … when we eat Korean food we will get pressure from other kids saying, they’re like, ‘Oh that looks disgusting.’ And we will back away from our own cultures trying to get more whitewashed. But then, you know, at the end of the day we are given an opportunity to go back to our heritage, to go back to the food we want, go back to the culture, speak the languages, have traditions. Like in Chinese culture we’re given Chinese New Year’s and we get $100 from each of our family members. So I think that’s a pretty good custom.”
U.S.-born man of Korean origin, 19
“[I’d say] ‘family-oriented’ because I feel like when I think of being Vietnamese, I think of like all our big family parties and how like we’re – I’m really close with my cousins and all my aunts and uncles and I feel like [they] also have like really big families. [My non-Vietnamese friends don’t] really do as many like big family parties, like events and things like that.”
U.S.-born woman of Vietnamese origin, 22
“We Bhutanese, even if [we do] small work like a sweeper [we have] integrity. We need our principles, to be honest on whatever we do and so people will also know of us through our honesty. We [are] people, not just Bhutanese … [the] first and foremost thing is integrity. Then we must respect everyone without discrimination of color or religion. We all have our own different values but … we respect and are honest and follow our values when in Bhutan, [but] when [we are] in the U.S., we forget those. Don’t try to be American.”
Immigrant woman of Bhutanese origin, 30 (translated from Dzongkha)
“Struggle in life, higher education, great opportunity.”
Immigrant woman of Bangladeshi origin, 53 (translated from Bengali)
“[It means new] opportunities, [stability] and freedom of speech.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 21 (translated from Vietnamese)
“I think that among Chinese people, Taiwanese are still a minority group. … Taiwanese are people living in Taiwan and are holders of Taiwanese passport. That’s how I would define these terms.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 24 (translated from Mandarin)
“As Taiwanese living in the U.S., we must be able to express our views as a minority group and stand up for our rights.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 47 (translated from Mandarin)
“It would be good if [others] called me as a Nepali … I would feel okay [being called] Asian American.”
Immigrant man of Nepalese origin, 45 (translated from Nepali)
“I think like before COVID especially I was bragging to my friends like, ‘Yeah, I’m Korean you know?’ Like I was really proud of that. But I feel like COVID, the Asian hate crimes that have been happening a lot, me being in like a [primarily] White neighborhood, [it feels like I have to hide it somehow]. I also personally experienced like Asian hate crimes and all that too. I can’t say like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m proud to be Korean,’ like I did back then.”
U.S.-born woman of Korean origin, 19
“We Chinese would still take care of the elderly, and rarely would move to another city on our own. Many of my non-Chinese classmates would simply do [what they want].”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 29 (translated from Mandarin)
“Chinese refers to people who may grow up in China and then live in other countries. Ethnic Chinese are those whose parents grew up in China, and then they are born in other countries.”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 28 (translated from Mandarin)
“[It means being an] immigrant, humble and hardworking. When [others see immigrants], they directly ask, ‘Where are you from?’ The Americans say … ‘Which country have you come from?’ Whenever they see our Asian face, our Nepali face, this matter is raised everywhere. Where do we come from? This is one thing. Since we have grown up in a culture of respecting all, being helpful, we all are mostly humble. It’s not necessary to mention hardworking. Nepalese are ready to work for 70 hours, 80 hours a week. If [we are working, we are committed to the work].”
Immigrant man of Nepalese origin, 38 (translated from Nepali)
“To foreigners, Chinese are hardworking people.”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 53 (translated from Mandarin)
“This is more from observation of my aunts and uncles from my mother’s side; they’re super familiar with the Vietnamese culture, the language. I mean, that’s both my parents – and also the community. My mom’s family is super … close in the Vietnamese community, and they have like a lot of, like, Vietnamese friends coming over, hanging out, going to temple, and so on and so forth. So when I think of what it means to be Vietnamese in America, it’s just being Vietnamese in general, I guess.”
U.S.-born woman of Vietnamese origin, 22
“In India we are too busy with work and don’t give that much attention to our kids. But here in the USA, children have many opportunities and we also have a lot of time to give them. From the point of view of education, as soon as schooling ends, children in India do not have enough time to do something new because there is so much competition that it becomes difficult to do anything else for themselves. In India, before the end of schooling, the child has to choose the field for himself.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 32 (translated from Hindi)
“The way I see it, [Americans] have stereotypes against Asians. They usually have bad prejudices against us. I think it would be better to get to know them better. We should be more respectful to them. After that, we will tell them the facts about Indonesian. They will finally know that Indonesia is interesting and good for them. It’s not a good idea [to first] suddenly say that I’m an Indonesian and other stuff.”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 28 (translated from Indonesian)
“[I am proud] to be Pakistani. I love my culture, love our values.”
Immigrant man of Pakistani origin, 65 (translated from Urdu)
“[Being Pakiastani in the U.S. means] hospitable, charitable, [having] cultural competence for all.”
U.S.-born woman of Pakistani origin, 47
“Some Burmese people who came to the United States are ashamed and scared to say they are Burmese people. But I am not afraid at all. Not ashamed at all. The reason people say they are embarrassed is [because of Ne Win’s military dictatorship and] government. They are ashamed. I want to say that I am a Burmese citizen with a thumbs up because … after independence … our country of Myanmar [was the] richest country in Southeast Asia. … Our country has provided rice to the whole of Asia. [They say] Myanmar is the [rice bowl] of Asia. Another thing is that … [Myanmar was once the] only country with the international airport in Southeast Asia. I am proud to say that. If a Japanese wanted to go to Europe or the United States, they had to go [through] Rangoon, Myanmar.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 67 (translated from Burmese)
“Being a foreigner. There are more restrictions than you think, like visa and green card. It’s hard … [but] I am often glad that I live here. [Even through] I am essentially a foreigner … people still accept me into their community. But when it comes to the government, I feel there is a wall, like with the driver’s license and passport.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 40 (translated from Japanese)
“It has been more than a decade since I first came to the United States, and in the meantime South Korea has developed a lot. Electronic devices that used to be dominated by Japanese products have now been replaced with Korean products, making me proud to be a Korean. There are many Korean cars, and K-pop and Korean food – all have grown a lot. I talked to an American teacher about that a while ago. The American teacher agreed with me. It seems that American people hate change and stay in the present. Talking about Korea’s rapid growth made me feel proud as a Korean.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 41 (translated from Korean)
“Hospitable, down to earth, religious.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 38
“[Filipinos are] family-oriented [and] hard workers.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 32
“[Being Taiwanese in the U.S. means] hardworking, [having an] identity crisis, kind.”
U.S.-born man of Taiwanese origin, 28
“[One is] to have stable job, two is to help the community and three is to help [other] Vietnamese [in the U.S.].”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 45 (translated from Vietnamese)
“I think here we have to be independent. First, I was independent because my husband works here. So I have to take care of the children. Husband and wife must work together, so each has its share, and we must also be brave to be more confident in dealing with the family.”
Immigrant woman of Indonesian origin, 38 (translated from Indonesian)
“[I am] proud to be a Pakistani. [I love] my culture and love our values. Pakistani values are of two kinds. One comes from your religion and the other comes from your culture. Both are intermingled and independent. So, religion teaches us along with our culture … we love both of them.”
Immigrant man of Pakistani origin, 65 (translated from Urdu)
“[Being Cambodian means being] honest, and happy in my community and a helper [to my community]. … What makes me happy in our Khmer/Cambodian community [is that I help them] … I helped.”
Immigrant woman of Cambodian origin, 46 (translated from Khmer)
“[I think of] being bilingual. … The concierge of my apartment asked why I don’t have a Japanese accent because my sister does. … Maybe people are wondering why I’m not Japanese enough or how Americanized I am.”
U.S.-born woman of Japanese origin, 37
“[Being Filipino is being] ethnically ambiguous in the media, relating to Black and Latino folks, sometimes much more than other Asians. [A] very colonized mentality. [Non-Filipinos think of] lumpia … and then Hispanic last names.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 26
“Being Filipino in the U.S. is hard but fun. From adapting to different traits and culture that are new to me, I’ve had experiences being discriminated by my race and gender because I’m not White and my English is not as good as the ones who grew up here. But conquering those [difficulties] is the fun part of it.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 23
“My view is that we must improve ourselves, enrich our knowledge and experience, so we feel stronger. I can do things now that I could not while in China. Even if you can’t, you must try, so that you will become stronger. Secondly, while expanding our knowledge, we will see and do things differently. Like there are Western and Chinese buildings, and with broader knowledge, you will look at them from different perspectives.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 39 (translated from Mandarin)
“Life in the U.S. is not like what you see in the movies. Asians, Filipinos are more than what the media portrays. We have a lot of differences, but Filipinos adapt easily with a joyful, positive perspective. Cultural differences are probably one of the biggest challenges, but Filipinos … often overcome easily. Discrimination is not a regular occurrence; it can happen anywhere. But it happens. Filipinos see the U.S. as a greener pasture because we’re coming from a third-world country, so opportunities here are better, but we have to work hard here also.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 34
“Hmong is a group; we are a group of people that likes to gather. … We have respect, love for each of those in our group. We move not as an individual, we are not into individualism, we move together as a group.”
Immigrant woman of Hmong origin, 56 (translated from Hmong)
“If we do not learn [in the U.S.], we cannot get a good job and we cannot communicate with other people. … We [also] need to strive in our business; just like young people, they can move out and live independently. [Finally,] no matter how high or low your social status is, you need to queue when shopping.”
Immigrant woman of Cambodian origin, 46 (translated from Khmer)
“When I went to potluck party at my children’s school, I took Korean food. People liked it when I made a Korean spicy salad and took it. They liked japchae as well. I think I convey Korean culture. I once worked in a commercial, and they asked me … ‘Why [are you] advertising to Koreans? Since there are only a few Koreans, it would be better if you advertised to South American or Chinese people with the same amount of money.’ I was hurt by the fact that the number of Korean people is small. There is nothing I can do. I live outside of Korea, but I think I’m becoming more patriotic. I worry a lot about my country. I think it’s important for the population to increase in order for my country to become stronger.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 51 (translated from Korean)
“I’d like everyone to know about Lao tradition.”
Immigrant man of Laotian origin, 46 (translated from Lao)
“Because America is not a place where you work overtime and stay up all night like in Korea, my husband leaves work early and spends a lot of time with family. At the same time, Koreans are obsessed with their children. You have to go to a good school and get a good job. I think I’m living those things as my goal in life.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 41 (translated from Korean)
“I don’t want to get American citizenship because Japan does not allow dual citizenship. I can get it any time, but I choose not to. If someone like Trump continues [to be president], I will have somewhere to go. That helps. I belong to both [Japan and the U.S.], and I still say whatever I want to say.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 65 (translated from Japanese)
“Indians are very hardworking. We help people a lot. Not only if you are Indian. We help people just for the sake of it. As a human being, we help people very easily. We are also very adaptable. We very quickly try to get accustomed to the kind of environment prevalent around us. Compared to Asian American, I think that most of the people who are Asian are very curious. They are very eager to learn. They have a great desire to learn … there are so many Asians, you take Korean, you take Chinese, all these people come here and work very hard and progress a lot because they have curiosity to learn.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 32 (translated from Hindi)
“People either loving you [for your] culture or hating you for it, being grouped [as one], successful.”
U.S.-born woman of Indian origin, 23
“To be a Pakistani in America means I have to be true to myself, keep my identity as a Pakistani, uphold my values.”
Immigrant woman of Pakistani origin, 42 (translated from Urdu)
“If you are a Chinese already in the United States, you have to struggle to survive and compete with others for resources. You may not need to get fully integrated into the society, but you have to adapt here to get what you want. For me, I would not say that it would be better or bad for personal development to stay in the United States, or return to the homeland, but that if this would be what I want, and I am able to make it, that would be good. Second is that as a Chinese, you are also an ethnic Chinese. You have your own expertise. You can use this expertise to serve as a bridge between the two countries, not only in culture, you can also make contributions in economic cooperation and political communication.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 29 (translated from Mandarin)
“I’ve been away from Taiwan for a long time, and in the U.S. I’ve met many Chinese speakers from different countries, maybe from mainland China, Malaysia, and many other places. This has broadened my perspective. I identify myself as a Taiwanese, but since I operate a [social media account], I have to be careful not to create any controversy. I normally say ‘[we’re] Chinese’; if I say something else, there may be some strong responses.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 47 (translated from Mandarin)
“You [think you are comfortable in the U.S.] because you learned the language, but you need to learn the culture by growing up rather than learning just talking skill. You can’t completely master that. There is a tendency to ignore you if you go to a neighborhood with Whites and try to buy a car. I think it’s difficult because there are prejudices.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 33 (translated from Korean)
“If you ask me, I feel that wherever I live, I feel that whatever I have learned for 29 years of my life, that is a permanent part of me. So I can live in any corner of the country. [Wherever I live, my] identity will not change easily … whether I call myself Indian American or Indian, it doesn’t matter. Because deep within, my attachment will be more with my country [India]. So there are those small elements of [India that I miss] a lot here. So by heart my association will remain with my country, but here if I get a different name like Indian American or something then it will not impact me much. Because my heart is with my country.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 30 (translated from Hindi)
“The culture.”
U.S.-born man of Vietnamese origin, 40
“[Being Laotian in the U.S. means] the young people should … be taught to respect the elderly [and to] protect Lao culture. They should learn and share with others, love Lao language, and speak Lao language.”
Immigrant woman of Laotian origin, 44 (translated from Lao)
“[Being Pakistani in the U.S. means embracing] culture, language and family values.”
Immigrant woman of Pakistani origin, 59 (translated from Urdu)
“Only thing [that] came to my mind [was] employment, job, career.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 37 (translated from Hindi)
“Well what I was trying to say is being Japanese American, as I meet other people of different races growing up, they get to know who I am. Like for example, I had to student-teach as a teacher in [Southern California] and my master teacher knew nothing about my culture. She had a fourth grade class, so I asked her if I could do a comparative theme of comparing California to Japan, which I learned when I was in fourth grade here. And she said, ‘Sure.’ So I brought in a lot of the culture. You know, for the kids we did origami. I brought a friend who did kendo; he did a kendo demonstration. And then she – we got close. It seemed like she accepted me more when I was able to open up and share who I was and about, you know, my culture. And I don’t know, it was a neat experience, yes. So yeah, I was glad I was able to have that opportunity.”
U.S.-born woman of Japanese origin, 65
“I got to think about my identity by leaving Japan. I got to broaden my view because I am a Japanese [person living] in America and I am a foreigner. In Japan, there is a strong sense of how things ought to be. For example, there are common practices and standards that you have to follow because you are Japanese, whereas foreigners don’t have to because they are not Japanese. I don’t have to be bound by those rules. I am free. We don’t have to live up to other people’s expectations. For example, you can’t have a certain haircut if you hit a certain age. My go-to hair dresser in Japan stopped giving me a straight perm. She says, ‘A straight perm is not recommended at your age. It makes your hair look heavy.’ They have rules that you cannot look a certain way when you get to whatever the age. They have strict rules about what you shouldn’t do. I don’t have to live with rules like that. I have that freedom. But also, because they like to get involved in other people’s business and be a good neighbor, you get support. The Japanese who live in America don’t get that. There are very few support systems for people who live in a big city.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 50 (translated from Japanese)
“I think it’s been quite a long time since [the] first Japanese people immigrated to the U.S., so the history of Japanese Americans must be fairly long, but when we say we are Japanese, Americans see us as new people and immigrants. They don’t regard us as Americans. I feel they treat us as outsiders. This is also true for Japanese Americans, and White people see us as ‘it’s people who came to our country.’ It makes me think that we will always be minorities and outsiders in America.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 34 (translated from Japanese)
“[Being Filipino in the U.S. means] hospitable and accommodating, fun, friendly and warm.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 32
“Here it is very, very diverse, so [people] are more open-minded. In Indonesia, maybe the majority are Muslims, and they may not be too tolerant toward other religions, but when we are here … it turns out that we are the minority. But tolerance [here] is very high, so in general [that makes us more] open-minded as well when we return to Indonesia later.”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 31 (translated from Indonesian)
“Being an Indian, you are very calm. We can see one thing from two to three perspectives. … [We’re open-minded and also] exotic. Whenever I tell [someone] that I am an actor, they say, ‘You look exotic. Where are you from?’ I say I am from India.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 29 (translated from Hindi)
“We have different languages and cultures, so we have to adapt [in the U.S.]. … You need to know their language, food and weather because it’s not the same as Thailand.”
Immigrant woman of Thai origin, 42 (translated from Thai)
“Here [people] care less, they are very judgmental [back home] … my environment is not a judgmental type, so it’s really easy going. Minding your own business.”
Immigrant woman of Indonesian origin, 38 (translated from Indonesian)
“Adobo, lumpia, nurses.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 31
“From the perspective of other races or ethnic groups, Asians such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese are indistinguishable. Koreans seem to be having a hard time because they are the target of Asian hatred.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 63 (translated from Korean)
“According to the culture, Indians are respectful. The custom of touching feet gives a lot of respect to elders. I wrote inclusive because the scope of Indian growing up in America is not so much in India as it is here. When I was growing up here, the first best friend was a Sikh, the second-best friend was a Muslim. So the boundaries that exist in India are not that much here. And maybe that’s good. Nobody likes racism or casteism. Disciplined, the way Indians are cultured and disciplined people. So I compared that to Asian because Asia as a whole, someone comes from Asia, he or she is hardworking. Their culture is hard work and smart. Any Chinese you see, he must have got A’s in school.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 47 (translated from Hindi)
“I think there’s always going to be a glass ceiling. That’s what I feel. Especially in business. I think it’s because you’ll never be one of the Americans. You just don’t look the part. You [could] start your own business [and] you could be as high as you want. But I think in the business world [you still] won’t be in one of the top tier management people. Like you’re not White enough, I guess, in other words. This is just how I feel, not really experienced. I mean, we always talk about what’s going on in the news, about how there are Asian Americans getting attacked by random people lately. So I have heard stories from other friends too. There’s always going to be some kind of prejudice because of our skin color. We’ll never be like them, 100% American.”
U.S.-born man of Chinese origin, 41
“It’s … America becoming this like giant mixing bowl … of different cultures. And seeing how I am a part of this, it kind of feels pretty nice to like be able to spread what my culture is as well as understand American society and [show] my parents, ‘Yeah, you know, I’m trying to spread what you taught me and I’m also teaching you what is pretty great about America as well.’”
U.S.-born man of Korean origin, 21
“I had no idea [the U.S.] had a lottery for citizenship … any of my family members would kill to have that ticket but because we’re not, you know, like a European White country, the U.S. would never give Filipinos the lotto ticket.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 41
“[What came to mind was] resilient, culture and celebrations. We have a very unique celebrations, different festivals, Lao New Year – I’ve been down to Louisiana for Lao New Year, it is the place to be! You know, it’s very unique and it draws in different people from different backgrounds who are not Lao, who want to celebrate with us. … We get folks from different communities that actually attend our events and it’s talked about throughout the year. … We are very resilient, you know, our … parents or grandparents have gone through so much, aunt and uncles, and we’re just fighters. We come back bouncing so I applaud like my family members as well as other Lao folks in America for that. And I just – I love our culture.”
U.S.-born woman of Laotian origin, 36
“For me, I want to find new experiences in my life as USA allows me to [try] new things. As I can see, Thai people here are diligent, patient and strong. They won’t give up on anything easily and even have more enthusiasm than Americans.”
Immigrant woman of Thai origin, 38 (translated from Thai)
“I feel like me being a Chinese American is like, how I act [represents] who we are. So that kind of makes me think, ‘Oh, I should work hard.’ Not just working hard, but like all the things I say, the behaviors I have represents like what Asian Americans or what Chinese Americans are. I’m definitely proud of it, and also being under the title of Chinese American, I think I need to work harder under that and show the best of myself.”
U.S.-born woman of Chinese origin, 22
“For me, firstly, I strive hard to survive freely. I do not want any coercion. Secondly, I have a mindset that Cambodians help Cambodians. If there is any Cambodian who does not know Cambodian community, I would [help him or her find it]. Third, I would help them to live happily in our Cambodian society.”
Immigrant woman of Cambodian origin, 49 (translated from Khmer)
“They know how to speak Vietnamese; [they] live in harmony.”
Immigrant man of Vietnamese origin, 23 (translated from Vietnamese)
“I am proud to be Hmong and to have been born and raised in the U.S. It is definitely a unique and different experience to have.”
U.S.-born woman of Hmong origin, 30
“Even if there are many places to visit in Korea, I need to prepare to go, but in the U.S., I can go even if I just make up my mind on the weekend. I feel more relaxed in the United States. American houses are cheap compared to Korean houses. Even though I can see a lot of bad things, I still think the United States is better.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 48 (translated from Korean)
“[It is] about maintaining the uniqueness of being Lao, of being a Lao person. For me, I have to at least teach my children to read and write the Lao language. But this was difficult because there wasn’t enough time because I had to work. But my children can understand, hear and speak without an accent. That’s the first thing. Second, I taught my kids why I had to leave my beloved homeland to come to America. … [I also] taught my children to know the importance of being Lao. Being able to speak the language tells [you] about your nationality. Manners tell [you] about your family. Being Lao means not doing bad things. This is what I taught my kids. I have written a history book for them to learn.”
Immigrant man of Laotian origin, 66 (translated from Lao)
“It’s challenging because we’re not White, but at least we don’t get the same racial discrimination as other ethnic groups. … [As Asians,] we are smart, we are accepted over others by the majority and receive opportunities. [Also] we are sometimes all lumped together as Chinese.”
U.S.-born man of Filipino origin, 43
“Taiwanese consider themselves immigrants.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 52 (translated from Mandarin)
“There is a difference between the standard of living in India and the standard of living in the USA. The medical facilities available here are better than in India. It feels safer here too. The education that we can give to our children here is of a very high standard. Competition here is also very less than in India, so whatever field one wants to choose for oneself, they will get it here.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 46 (translated from Hindi)
“For me, I think one of the biggest things that defines being Taiwanese American is the political struggle with China, and also the fact that Taiwan had gone through industrialization as part of the four tigers, whereas China is going through it now. Also China is a much larger region with its own different backgrounds for each area and differences in cuisine and stuff like that. So there is a lot more to being Chinese, whereas the Taiwan culture is a little bit more uniform, but it’s still different.”
U.S.-born man of Taiwanese origin, 32
“Many Vietnamese people are selfish but working very hard and very intelligent.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 45 (translated from Vietnamese)
“There’s a lot of similarities between [Koreans and] other types of Asian [ethnicities]. We’re generally assumed that we’re all one collective race. Someone asked if I’m Chinese because they think Asian and Chinese [are] the same thing. I think growing up that was something my parents did not prepare me for at all – being asked where I’m really from. I’m like, ‘I’m from Michigan. Why are you asking me that?’ It was challenging for me, but I think, I’m an American. I identify as a U.S. citizen with my own unique cultural backgrounds, whether it’s Korean or Asian, I accept it and I embrace it and I also want to be able to connect with other people who are on the same boat that’s still trying to identify as Asian or Korean.”
U.S.-born man of Korean origin, 30
“I feel like [it’s] like being a survivor from a bloodline of survivors. I know Khmer people in this generation, we’re very hardworking. We’re known for not giving up but secondly … it’s just like we’re also, you know, responsible for preserving the culture, because … some of us are mixed and what-not, and so we’re trying to hold onto that and I think also just responsible for changing that narrative … from being survivors to a generation that thrives or a culture that thrives. And then lastly, just being underrepresented or mixed in with like the larger Asian American community, so I think sometimes Cambodians get lost in the mix, whether that’s within data stereotypes or just the way that we show up in the world.”
U.S.-born woman of Cambodian origin, 31
“Here, when I see [Burmese in America], we see [them as] doctors and educated people.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 43 (translated from Burmese)
“So, I did not have any identity until I was an American citizen. As I didn’t have it, I got my first passport and identity when I became an American. I have also lived in Burma [so] I know Burmese. I like Burmese food and had Burmese friends. So, if someone asks me, ‘Hey, where are you from?’ I say, ‘I’m from Burma.’ I’m proud to say.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 70 (translated from Burmese)
“Our culture and tradition. Because when we see it as a whole, we and the generations [after] us come, they go to school, they study, they write, they become doctors, engineers, scientists, everything. But people coming from all the other countries also are like that. But the culture and tradition that we learned before we came here, if we can teach that to our future generation, I think that would be a very unique quality for us. Because we have actually come from such a country, which sits between big countries India and China, [and we take] both cultures as a whole. … Let’s talk about the food – [when we shop] we have to go to the Indian shop, we also have to go to the Chinese shop. Talking about the religion-culture – [northern Nepal] has a lot of similarities with China, say in terms of customs and food. … The most important thing is to give [culture] to the upcoming generations.”
Immigrant woman of Nepalese origin, 45 (translated from Nepali)
“There are things you can do if you work hard. … People from the mountains do not know English but they care a lot … they try their best.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 73 (translated from Burmese)
“When I talk to people I don’t know well at work, I often hear, ‘Your English is good.’ Of course, in their heads, I am someone who can’t speak English and has an accent like someone who immigrated to America. ([They think] I need to have FOB-ish accent.)”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 31 (translated from Korean)
“There is [a] problem of differing views. Some things may be considered normal here while in Indonesia they are considered impolite. If it’s here, it’s normal, maybe we are more accepting, we don’t just make judgments, so we understand. Moreover, there are also many other ethnic groups here, not only African. So here we can get to know the world better [by living here].”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 28 (translated from Indonesian)
“Philippine passport [makes it] difficult to travel to other countries due to visa. [Being Filipino also means I] keep on eating Pinoy [Filipino] foods.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 32
“Three things that come to mind when I think about Taiwanese [people] living in the U.S: Convincing people that Taiwan is not China or Thailand (lol). Being intentionally more bold/confident/less of an agreeable people pleaser, especially in professional settings. Balancing external cultural pressures with familial values.”
U.S.-born woman of Taiwanese origin, 26
“I’m proud of Thai-ness wherever I live in. They might ask me if I’m Chinese or Laotian, but I will answer them with pride that I’m Thai. I was born in Thailand, so I never forget my background no matter how I live because it’s my origin. I have a Thai American friend whose father is Thai and calls himself Thai. He asked his friends if they believe that he is Thai because his appearance looks a bit [mixed]. When I asked how he felt, he felt proud of it. I feel good and never embarrassed about [my background]. When I apply for a job, they tend to ask if I’m Chinese or come from Oriental countries, of course, I tell that I’m Thai.”
Immigrant man of Thai origin, 59 (translated from Thai)
“Since I am the first generation, even if I learned English or American culture, I don’t feel I blend in well with American society. Like water and oil. In the past, I tried to master it, but now I have given up to some extent. I think there’s a limit. The reason I said I’m free is that no matter what I do here, no one [can say anything], so I’m comfortable.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 42 (translated from Korean)
“I guess everyone around the world knows that we have the concept of bayanihan [communal cooperation]. I think ever since you’re young, like 2 years old, that’s already introduced, in kindergarten. That’s already there, teamwork. So I guess even celebrities, if they want a PR stunt, they will mention Philippines or Filipinos on any show. So that a lot of people will watch their shows. Like, we enjoy a popularity contest. Whatever is trending, that’s where we go. At the same time, since there are so many Filipinos, if they know that you are a Filipino, they’ll help you. So, I guess if you want to accomplish something, just gather Filipinos, you will accomplish it.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 32
“I really like how people aren’t so closed-minded in America, like in Japan.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 49 (translated from Japanese)
“Be resilient, hard work is important, elevate yourself.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 38
“The most important thing is loyalty. Bhutanese people display loyalty and understand cause and effect. … As soon as we mention we are from Bhutan, those foreigners who know about Bhutan treat us in special manner, exclaiming, ‘You are from Bhutan!’ They say different things about Bhutan. So when we say we are from Bhutan, there is a special identity of the Bhutanese people even though there are different people from different countries in New York. So as a Bhutanese, we stand out among other people and they must feel the same way. One thing is our religion. Wherever we go, whether it be New York or other places and whether it has been a long time in other countries or not, Bhutanese people have preserved their religion, and kept the advice of our King and elders with loyalty.”
Immigrant woman of Bhutanese origin, 40 (translated from Dzongkha)
“First, Taiwan is not a part of China! Second, the perception that Taiwan is a relatively affluent and well-educated country, so its people immigrating to the U.S. are too. Third, Taiwanese people tend to be polite and respectful.”
U.S.-born man of Taiwanese origin, 32
“[Being Filipino in the U.S. means having] Filipino values, [a] Filipino sense of community, Filipino culture.”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 43
“I don’t know a lot of Japanese, Japanese Americans, or even Asian American people. So I can only just assume. Most of the stuff would just be stereotypical things: hardworking, good at math. But besides that, just culture … I can’t really think of too much, to be honest with you.”
U.S.-born man of Japanese origin, 42
“I think … respect is a really big thing in Korean culture. But with that in mind, I had a conversation with my friend about this. Like, oh, respecting your parents is really important, but also like how … that’s important and I identify with that, but also it comes with moderation. I just feel like there’s such a big power dynamic between the child and the parent. And like, no matter what you do, what you say, and how logical your reasoning is, like, they won’t respect you because their word is final. … I’ve really noticed that … I don’t know about like, other Asian parents, but especially among Korean parents I feel like … even if you were to question them, it’s almost like an inconvenience for them and like, it’s [their way or the] highway.”
U.S.-born woman of Korean origin, 22
“When they say Asians, they put everyone in the same slot. They don’t understand how East Asians are different from us. And it affects a lot. It has a large-scale implication, [like] whenever a budget is released.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 35 (translated from Hindi)
“Being a Pakistani, you have a different identity. [Being] true to myself, that the things I believe in, the things I have my faith in. … Believe in the point that you have to keep the belief. And values you have of your religion and your culture, they are all your values. Keep yourself firm on them.”
Immigrant woman of Pakistani origin, 42 (translated from Urdu)
“Wary, upstanding, invisible.”
U.S.-born man of Pakistani origin, 30
“There is a bigger difference between those who are working hard and those who are not. I have never been to other parts of the U.S. … but in the U.S., people with a lot of money and people with no money at all can keep a certain quality of life. I think it’s the nation like ‘I don’t care.’ In Japan, people are very conscious about how others see them. I think everyone somehow organizes themselves and never show you are the poorest in the bottom of the society in Japan. When I came here, I strongly felt that even the poorest people have a certain attitude of ‘I’m at the bottom, so what?’ and are confident and pushy. Some Japanese people are taking advantage of such attitude. On the other hand, I don’t know if it was just someone I happened to know, but there are also people like artists who are trying to rise up on their own by taking advantage of the good moral of Japanese and the opportunities here without being spoiled in the atmosphere of the U.S. I feel the U.S. is a country where such ambitious people can receive great opportunities and motivation. It may be rude to describe some people as ‘those who don’t work hard’ and maybe that’s just who they are, but this is a country where you can live no matter who you are, and it’s up to you. I think some Japanese came here because they know that.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 45 (translated from Japanese)
“We are a united group of people.”
Immigrant man of Laotian origin, 46 (translated from Lao)
“[Vietnamese American are] not as traditional [as Vietnamese]. Even though they still have traditional values because usually you grow up with more family-oriented [values], but I think by growing up in the U.S., your value and just the culture you grew up around is different.”
U.S.-born man of Vietnamese origin, 40
“If it is Indian then there is software.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 37 (translated from Hindi)
“I like Vietnamese people in the U.S. like me. … Because I always feel very comfortable to communicate in my mother tongue.”
Immigrant man of Vietnamese origin, 47 (translated from Vietnamese)
“Nothing to say about the mother language. I, myself, also try hard with speaking and listening I have to learn more again.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 67 (translated from Burmese)
“New immigrants from Taiwan may not speak the best English, but they identify with the free social environment in the U.S.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 52 (translated from Mandarin)
“For me, Vietnamese culture and language are very precious.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 51 (translated from Vietnamese)
“I’ve been living here for a long time, and I am interested in politics. There are many things that directly impact our lives even though we are not a citizen. But I still can’t get citizenship. I could if I wanted to, but then I would have to give up my Japanese citizenship. That’s why I don’t. I am Japanese, but when I go back to Japan, people tell me I’ve been Americanized because I am different from other Japanese people. In America, I am sure I act a lot more like Japanese. As for my identity, I feel like I am 70% Japanese, 30% American. Being in limbo sounds perfect to me. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I believe that this is my identity, and it’s wonderful that there is something that makes me different. But I do feel that I don’t belong in Japan or America.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 36 (translated from Japanese)
“When I meet non-Filipinos, especially in like White spaces or spaces where there’s not a lot of Asians in general, they’ll just think of lumpia [Filipino spring rolls]. … They won’t even say, ‘Do you know what lumpia is?’ They literally just say ‘lumpia.’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ And it started to annoy me so I would just tell people – well, depending on who it is – If I like the person, I’ll be like, ‘Yeah,’ but if I’m like annoyed, I’ll be like, ‘We don’t eat that like every single day.’ I don’t know. We only eat that for special occasions.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 26
“Firstly, it depends on the person. Many Burmese are ashamed to say they are Burmese. I don’t know if we Burmese are a bit ashamed to say this among White people.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 70 (translated from Burmese)
“I am proud of where I come from. Whatever I have learned in my upbringing has played a very important role in my life. I find the good things [I’ve learned from] my community [are] very [helpful] … if my child is born here, I would definitely like my child to go to India and stay there for a couple of years. I want them to have experience in both places. Because I think even Indian Americans here don’t know how lucky they are. I think we all will agree that [before] we migrated from India, we had to struggle a lot in India which we don’t have to do here. Also, people do not understand this fact. So my culture and upbringing … always reminds me that you have chosen this journey. That’s why I find this heritage and language very important.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 30 (translated from Hindi)
“Three things [that come to mind]: immigrant, [social] status and jobs. [We are immigrants, meaning] we came here. I don’t have [legal status]. As soon as I see [someone from] Myanmar in the United States, I want to know their status. What job are they working?”
Immigrant woman of Burmese origin, 29 (translated from Burmese)
“One: Culture. We never let go of our culture wherever we go. From celebrating any kind of festival to every other aspect, we follow our own Nepali culture. Two: I would say respect. This thing also came up earlier. Like if we go anywhere, we tend to respect people who are older than us. [Father], elder brother, we address them like that. Three: Nepali people are very hardworking. If anyone says I will do this specific thing, they will end up achieving that. I believe that [is] the symbol of Nepali people.”
Immigrant woman of Nepalese origin, 46 (translated from Nepali)
“[Being Pakistani in the U.S. means] highly educated; [having a] top three career [lawyer, doctor, engineer]; traditonal, cultured [or] in touch with [your] roots.”
U.S.-born woman of Pakistani origin, 26
“The Chinese are generally hardworking people, and many of us have come here to pursue a master’s or Ph.D., namely higher education. And then high-income [jobs], for example, software engineer, if both partners are doing similar jobs, their annual income would be over $300,000. So they would save a lot of money, make a lot of investments, even in real estate.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 56 (translated from Mandarin)
“[Being Indian in the U.S. means] overachieving, never truly fitting in, strong family background, double identity.”
U.S.-born woman of Indian origin, 29
“I am an Indian American. Because I have been living here for so many years. It means I want to live here and I like the lifestyle here. If I have to go back to India, it will be very difficult for me. Because we have accepted this lifestyle. … I think if your mentality and thought have changed then you have become an Indian American. I feel that the compassion I have now become totally American in nature. Because that’s how I think. That’s why I think I am Indian American … you keep the accent aside.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 30 (translated from Hindi)
“[I am] ethnically Chinese and will be mistaken as Chinese national.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 41 (translated from Mandarin)
“I pick up languages very easily and that’s why in public health, I could work. I was the only person who knew more than one language and they weren’t just mine. … [Also] we’re always offering people food. It’s wonderful.”
U.S.-born woman of Pakistani origin, 47
“You can progress here easily. If you are a hard worker, your hard work will pay off. Come what may. And secondly, you can progress without having to lose your own identity. Now my daughter, they go to school with their headscarves. They don’t face any problems.”
Immigrant woman of Pakistani origin, 51 (translated from Urdu)
“A lot of people believe that Japanese are the most humble and honest people. … I feel like I need to live up to that. I have to try hard when people say things like that. Of course it is good, but it’s a lot of work sometimes. As Japanese, and for my family, I try hard.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 46 (translated from Japanese)
“[Being Filipino is] culturally unique – a mix of Spanish and Asian culture but still neither. We have a great reputation for being friendly and hardworking.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 35
“I am a beneficiary under [Taiwan’s] rigid framework. I think that while Taiwan’s education may not be so free, it did provide me with a lot of knowledge. After coming here, I realize not every American takes education seriously. I am not saying that education is the only solution in life, but it is at least a more reliable route. That is, when you have a high level of education, your horizons will be … broader.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 29 (translated from Mandarin)
“Japanese people who come to the U.S. have come here for various reasons. Nobody came here for no reasons. Everybody has their dreams and goals. Japanese companies have strict rules and policies, but everybody can live with a bit more freedom here, I think. Also, in Japan everybody [changes their behavior for] others, but nobody cares [about] different behavior in the U.S.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 40 (translated from Japanese)
“We are taught everything by our parents. When it comes to etiquette, it comprises of knowing how to sweep the house and do the dishes if we are girl. Whether it is about standing up, sitting down and small works at home such as sweeping, we are taught how it is done. So discipline is instilled in us from early age on daily basis. It might come under tradition.”
Immigrant woman of Bhutanese origin, 40 (translated from Dzongkha)
“[In our country], our culture [and] diversity … there is so much … incredible India is so beautiful that I am very proud to be an Indian. Everyone wants to see our country and definitely wants to visit India once in their lifetime. As an Asian, I would say that our food and our values are like all other Asian countries. … We have been taught our values and our roots.”
Immigrant woman of Indian origin, 53 (translated from Hindi)
“My lover [likes] to say ‘How are you doing?’ to American cashiers, but when he does the same to Thai cashiers, they tend to be astonished because Thai people don’t say that to a cashier regularly. Therefore, our culture is different.”
Immigrant woman of Thai origin, 40 (translated from Thai)
“[Being Japanese in the U.S. means being ] bilingual. I think being able to speak Japanese and English is a plus. I really feel I do my best in this country. As it was mentioned earlier, there are many expectations in Japan. There is more freedom here, and it’s OK to do what you want. I am now 72 years old. I can wear shorts to do my yardwork, and no one complains about it. I like that freedom.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 72 (translated from Japanese)
“I knew I was different. I’ve been in many situations where I was the first Asian or Chinese person that people got to know. Sometimes it felt uncomfortable, but I think, in a way, I was a bit of a trailblazer in that regard because if people regard me as a person as opposed to a Chinese person, it might pave the way for others. They may treat others that they meet and encounter over the course of their lives and careers differently than before.”
U.S.-born man of Chinese origin, 61
“If I look at it from the perspective of the United States, I actually think I don’t need to do anything. I don’t owe this society anything, and this society doesn’t owe me anything either, and then I can do as much as I can. But how to define my current choice and my life, I think it is mostly from the perspective of domestic friends or domestic relatives. Of course they think that it is good to come to the United States, to study for a doctorate. But if you can stay there as a young people, earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a sense it is a success, if you finally return to China. If you return to China, it may be good if you can go to Shenzhen, but if you still return to your hometown when you return to China, it may not be meaningful.”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 30 (translated from Mandarin)
“[Being Taiwanese in the U.S. means being] open minded, determined, privileged.”
U.S.-born woman of Taiwanese origin, 22
“Three words to describe what Hmong people are: Resilience, adaptable and survivors.”
U.S.-born man of Hmong origin, 42
“[Japan is] becoming the past. [Samsung] is gaining power, and American tech companies … are becoming more and more influential in Japan. Now there are no technologies that can compete with them in Japan. I feel sad about it.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 62 (translated from Japanese)
“[I think about] our background, especially our cultural and life background. If we [work] harder, even Americans can accept them. Although I live in a Chinese district, many of my neighbors are from Italy or other countries. We know something about their lifestyles, but the Chinese culture boasts something they don’t have. So I always [think] there can be mutual respect and helping each other. I think this is good.”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 56 (translated from Mandarin)
“[Indians in the U.S. are] skilled, [a] minority, stereotyped.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 30 (translated from Hindi)
“Well, I think Vietnamese people always value and take care of their families. In the family, even grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters help each other. And I see that every family, even though they have children, they still work hard to have a stable life. … [They also go] to community activities, they share and help each other in difficult problems.”
Immigrant man of Vietnamese origin, 51 (translated from Vietnamese)
“We are [Burmese]. So we want our country to be in [a] good situation.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 43 (translated from Burmese)
“[Being Pakiastani in the U.S. means] Muslim, educated and curious.”
U.S.-born man of Pakistani origin, 22
“I think because we live in America we are educated now. So, our skills level is different. I want to have a country or a place for Hmong and we can do anything and we have our relatives. [People ask where I am from, I answer] I was born in Thailand.”
Immigrant woman of Hmong origin, 31 (translated from Hmong)
“[Being] Taiwanese in America [means] pursuing a better future, witnessing how [a] real democracy recognizes their own country.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 37 (translated from Mandarin)
“Being Buddhist, [you] have compassion and [humility, it is built into] the Buddhist culture. … [Being] Bhutanese when we wear our gho and kira [traditional dress] during the gatherings and all, we [also] become ambassadors of Bhutan, like cultural ambassadors. Finally, as we came here for economic reasons we are [part of] the workforce here. If there are no Asians here then who would do these small jobs?”
Immigrant man of Bhutanese origin, 36 (translated from Dzongkha)
“[We’re] hardworking as I think Taiwanese people – they come here, and they work hard to get a better life for them and their family. [We also experience] identity crisis … growing up a lot of people asked me, ‘Are you Taiwanese or Chinese?’ That’s always the question that we hear. I think even among [some] Taiwanese people … it works either way. Then I know it’s hard to explain to people. When I have a new friend, it’s hard to explain to people like, ‘Oh, I’m Taiwanese, but I’m also Chinese. Nationality-wise, I’m Taiwanese, but ethnically I’m Chinese.’ It’s hard to explain, so I feel like it’s a struggle that I faced growing up.”
U.S.-born man of Taiwanese origin, 28
“For me the most important is our identity. When we say identity, [it includes] the thing about culture, about language, and about religion. The thing I [am most anxious about] is teaching our identity to our next generation. That is a thing I am really worried about.”
Immigrant man of Nepalese origin, 45 (translated from Nepali)
“In America, Koreans can never mix [with other Americans]. … The Korean community is small, so we all know each other. I can only focus on my family. My whole family is in Korea, and if I was in Korea, I don’t think I can live like this. [It would be tiring] if I was close to my in-laws and family members. But if I want to do something only with my family, it’s good to be able to do it.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 43 (translated from Korean)
“I am proud to be an Indian and I am also proud because perhaps Indianness will remain in me for life. But that Indianness tells me that I have to respect America. The loyalty here and the values here have to be respected. Whether I live here or live in some other country. I have to respect [all countries]. That’s why I am proud of my country and my civilization and culture.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 36 (translated from Hindi)
“As a Bhutanese, whether we are taken to New York or anywhere, I have a sense of appreciation and pride. We have an immense sense of gratitude to our ancestral culture and our king wherever we go. We are proud of being Bhutanese. Outsiders also look to us with appreciation and pride. Even among ourselves, we are proud and appreciate ourselves. As a Bhutanese from a Buddhist country we are instilled with values such as love and care from a very early age. Due to this we are not greedy like other people and we are very happy. When it comes to independence, Bhutanese are able to live independently wherever they go.”
Immigrant man of Bhutanese origin, 43 (translated from Dzongkha)
“Here people don’t know Myanmar … [people from] Myanmar appear as immigrants and refugees [seeking political asylum]. But they don’t know much about it. After the military coup, they cared more about Myanmar. They knew Myanmar more. In my office, they ask, ‘Oh, how is your country? Is the situation okay?’ More people are aware of our county. Yes we grew up under a military administration. But for me, I usually take neutral sides in politics. … When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, some of my family members have died. I couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t even transfer money. My aunt died in July. My cousin died on July 31. On August 20, another aunt died. I wanted to support from here, send money, and return, but I couldn’t.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 36 (translated from Burmese)
“There is one that I can think of … I came as a refugee from Laos simply because America went to war over there. I want you to know that I lived in Laos. I am Lao. Because there was a war there, I had to look for a way to get myself out, to escape from Laos.”
Immigrant man of Laotian origin, 46 (translated from Lao)
“[Being Bangladeshi in the U.S.] means a lot. … If [the place you were] born and raised … is found abroad, there is nothing bigger than it. And now I think many people here who are born here are also learning or trying Bengali [culture]. … Now these are the opportunities. This opportunity may not be available in many other countries. So from that point, we are lucky enough to enjoy the flavor of our country even when staying abroad. Socially, culturally, all in all.”
Immigrant man of Bangladeshi origin, 56 (translated from Bengali)
“Dim sum.”
U.S.-born woman of Chinese origin, 36
“[Being Japanese in the U.S.] is not about forgetting our Japanese roots. It’s simply that our position in America isn’t clear until we become a citizen. We are in limbo. Once we get our citizenship, I think we, too, would feel like we are American right away. Even though [some Japanese have] lived here for 10, 20 years, they don’t have the voting rights because they are not a citizen. … What came to mind was the foreigners who live in America but really don’t live in America. I don’t know how to say it, but people who’ve lived in America for a long time, but they are not American. They are not patriotic like other Americans. They don’t have it. … They are in limbo.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 46 (translated from Japanese)
“[Vietnamese people] always has family and relatives close by. Secondly, they always try to let [their] children learn about their roots. Thirdly, [they] are very hardworking.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 43 (translated from Vietnamese)
“Firstly, this country is very diverse, and when we Bhutanese come here [we add] to it. And I think this is very good for us and for this country as well. [S]econdly, here there are lots of restaurants and maybe we should add a bit of our spice and flavor to it.”
Immigrant man of Bhutanese origin, 46 (translated from Dzongkha)
“People here have a certain idea that Indians mean this and this. For example, whenever I speak [Hindi], the first thing that comes to mind for Americans here is ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ [that] we come from slums. Another stereotype is that if you are Indian, you are either a doctor or an engineer. Basically, people do a lot of stereotyping here.”
Immigrant man of Indian origin, 30 (translated from Hindi)
“Hardworking, determined, intelligent.”
Immigrant woman of Vietnamese origin, 20 (translated from Vietnamese)
“When you come here as an immigrant, you feel like a stranger. I feel like a loner because I don’t always get along. Even when I work, I feel discrimination against Asians a lot. … Since we are strangers from Korea, we have to work harder than Americans.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 53 (translated from Korean)
“Bangladeshi Americans who are here, we are carrying Bangladeshi culture, religion, food. I am also trying to be Americanized like the Americans, regarding language, eating habits. So balancing it often becomes tough. It’s not easy. But we Bengalis can adjust and adapt. The advantage of Bengalis is that we can adapt any environment. Many cannot do the same, but we can adapt. That’s why we think we can do it. Many of us can or do. Especially many of the Bengali people are working in the mainstream here with Americans. In whichever environment they go, they can adapt to that environment. This is a great quality of the Bengali people.”
Immigrant man of Bangladeshi origin, 56 (translated from Bengali)
“Hmong [people] don’t have a country … and it is sad, but [not having] a country doesn’t [discredit] people. … I believe that every race of people [in America belongs … and when people] have strength, the country has strength [too]. [Because] they take the land and take care of it. … In the area [where I was born in Laos], there are many types of people … and they put one person to oversee it. For example, [the country of Laos is named after one group called Lao], but there weren’t just Lao people there. There were Lao, Khmu, Hmong. There was a city of Khmu that was their land and their place. Or a Hmong village, that was their land and their place but … the leaders came and divided it up. They divided it for the people that have the power or have money or are close to them, so they divided the land. So us Hmong, even though we didn’t have any land, you will gather for our name if you believe we [belong to this world]. … It means that we are a group of people that don’t have a border … [who can] travel to wherever we want.”
Immigrant man of Hmong origin, 39 (translated from Hmong)
“Well, I’m proud of the contribution of our people. … It would be nice if it was in the history books a lot more. Also I think our people have the work ethic, and I feel like I got [mine] from my parents.”
U.S.-born woman of Chinese origin, 60
“Hardworking, foreign, warm/friendly/sunshiny.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 51
“Being Lao in America … we get thrown into whatever and we can make it through. … I think our families and the relationship have taught us that we could always find a way. … My bosses think it’s the best thing – like I have the best work ethic, you know they don’t say it’s Lao, they’re just like, ‘Your parents raised you right and you could work through anything and make it work.’ … I am trying to teach and continue teaching the work ethic and our culture so we don’t lose it. … I continue with my daughter going to the temple and learning the Lao dances and trying to keep that going.”
U.S.-born woman of Laotian origin, 37
“I feel that coming here was a great opportunity for me. With my hard work and endeavor, I should be able to achieve above-average achievements in the U.S.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 75 (translated from Mandarin)
“We respect Nepalese [people, culture and language] [in] whatever community we belong to. And we have understanding of each other. We respect each other from the core of our soul. Yes, we understand in that way. Nepalese are innocent in every aspect … Nepalese are good. They are like honest, laborious and hard workers. They also respect each other culturally.”
Immigrant woman of Nepalese origin, 52 (translated from Nepali)
“[I feel] proud. I feel like Laotian culture and people are becoming much more mainstream now, compared to how it was before. … When I was younger, people asked me what I was and I said ‘I’m Lao,’ they didn’t even know what that was. So I used to have to tell them I’m Chinese and they’re like, ‘Oh, okay, I know that one.’ But now I feel like we Lao people, we usually … keep to ourselves. … Now I feel like it’s our time to really come out – you know, kind of let our voice be heard now.”
U.S.-born man of Laotian origin, 28
“[We are] losing our culture. This is because, even when it comes to speaking Dzongkha, Bhutanese people are not able to communicate well. And while speaking we mix English. Even when it comes to clothing, when we go to important festivals, we complain a lot about wearing our national attire are not fond of wearing it. For example, the day before yesterday, I went to witness the archery competition. Even when going for the archery match, people complain that we have to wear gho there and insist that they will drive in pants … because it is inconvenient, hurts our back, kira falls down or gho gets left behind. Forget about a day, we cannot wear it for a moment. So this way, we are losing our culture. Even when it comes to Bhutanese cuisine, the most important dish is curry, isn’t it? Now if we Bhutanese prepare it, no one prepares a pure dish. Neither do we include onion nor tomato. There are only chilis and cheese. This is just an example. If we are to preserve our ancestral culture, we have to preserve even such things like understanding that radish and chilis are good combination with pork curry. Here, they mix everything.”
Immigrant woman of Bhutanese origin, 53 (translated from Dzongkha)
“[Being a] model minority, not being seen, [a monolithic] exotic culture.”
U.S.-born woman of Indian origin, 43
“[Being Thai in the U.S.] means that we were born in Thailand and decided to relocate because we can see the opportunities to succeed or improve.”
Immigrant man of Thai origin, 30 (translated from Thai)
“You’re Indian. You’re not Pakistani, and for the rest of the world, like we’re not even a blip on the map. Nobody cares unless there’s an attack. That’s the only time we’re relevant in the news and nobody – like that’s why we’re invisible. People don’t even know anything about us, nor do they care to so if you’re standing in a sea of brown, you’re just brown. That’s it.”
U.S.-born man of Pakistani origin, 30
“First of all, people here would recognize us as just Asians. Regardless of [whether people are] Koreans or Chinese. I think that people see us as Asians rather than as Japanese. Secondly, when they find out I am Japanese – in our generation, Japan was a technological powerhouse at one time, like Sony, so they say, ‘Japan is great, isn’t it? Their technology is great.’ Now such conversation happens less often. So that presence of Japan is becoming the past, I feel. The third thing is about the WWII. I’m over 60 years old now, so I feel the WWII is closer to me than younger people. When I talk to older people here, they often mention the war. Like they were in Okinawa as a soldier, or served in the Korean War, they talk about their history. So the war-related matters come up in my mind.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 62 (translated from Japanese)
“[Being Indian in the U.S. means having a] strong community, adherence to culture and norms, and embracing both sides religion and assimilating.”
U.S.-born man of Indian origin, 28
“I’ve seen so many videos where there’s just an Asian person on screen, maybe they’re singing or doing a little skit, and all these comments – when you look in the comments, they’re almost always, ‘Oh, you look like this person,’ or ‘Oh, you look like this K-pop star,’ or ‘Oh my God, you have an anime body,’ or something. I’ve seen a lot of commentary on where just being an Asian thing, or just being an Asian person is something that can get you fetishized or sexualized in some way because of what’s going on social media-wise.”
U.S.-born woman of Korean origin, 19
“[Taiwan is] home to boba tea. [We are] smart people, financially stable, [and a] minority. [We have the] best food [and] care about family.”
Immigrant man of Taiwanese origin, 29 (translated from Mandarin)
“[Indonesians are first seen as] an easterner and [second] a Muslim. Americans view easterners as barbaric, inferior. But we also have good values that we can be proud of. … The information Americans get about Muslims is a bit twisted.”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 28 (translated from Indonesian)
“I’m always curious the reason why they [various Japanese men and women] came here. Of course there are many reasons, like marriage, school or business, but I’m curious because there are so many different people. Also, I always see some Japanese people who have mysterious business and earn lots of money for some reason and enjoying their life in NYC. I’m like, ‘What on earth are they doing?’… I think it’s fine. Each person has their own knowledge and ways of business. It might [not have worked] in Japan, but worked here. Those people are doing what [I’d] never even think of. In much bigger scale than my job. I enjoy listening to them. Another thing, it’s also due to my own age, I wonder what would be the best to do after our retirement. I know some people from Japan in [their] 60s or 70s, and they sometimes talk about going back to Japan eventually. … There are several reasons for this, but after all, especially when it comes to NYC, isn’t it because everything is too expensive? Even if you own real estate, the property tax is too high. After all, it’s tough to live in NYC for people in middle class or lower than that. Japanese people like us can go back to Japan as the final decision. Some people go back to Japan, some people move to Hawaii or other states.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 52 (translated from Japanese)
“When we introduce Indonesia to a non-Asian, we will introduce the culture and the Indonesian language, as well as mentioning Bali. Because non-Asians are more familiar with Bali than Indonesia. However, Indonesia has other [places like Bali] that are beautiful. So, Indonesia has different beautiful places.”
Immigrant woman of Indonesian origin, 38 (translated from Indonesian)
“I have also written progressive. So naturally when you are progressive, you have more chances to excel.”
Immigrant woman of Pakistani origin, 41 (translated from Urdu)
“What does it mean to be Chinese? [First], it [relates to] the American society. Although we have had many years of immigration history, they still think we are not fully integrated into this society. Because the mainstream society is still White, in fact, the situation is the same as other ethnic groups such as Blacks or Hispanics. Chinese [are] still aliens, still a minority. The second is that Chinese people have their own culture and also adapted to the current culture here, so their own traits [are in conflict]. … Third, because of the traits you bring [from China], you have to look forward. What does the future hold for Chinese [people] and the society [they] live in? I think if it’s in a good direction [we] can be a bridge. It means to build a bridge between American society and other groups instead of only Chinese, or possibly other groups in the United States, which is to promote mutual understanding.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 27 (translated from Mandarin)
“There are many [Japanese] people who love traveling. I think many Japanese people here are talkative and energetic. On the other hand, it’s a bit negative aspect, many people are too arrogant. It’s just about people I met personally. I feel some Japanese people here often look down on Japan. I often get acquainted with women who have been away from Japan for 20 to 30 years, and I really feel they are talking about Japan without knowing current situation. I always disagree with them. I may sound a bit nasty, but sometimes I wonder why they look down on Japan just because they are living in the U.S., and it might be the only thing they could be proud of. … Anyways, I often feel those people want to show off that they are better than other Japanese people living in Japan, just because they are in the U.S., even when they don’t say like that.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 47 (translated from Japanese)
“[Filipinos are] hardworking.”
Immigrant man of Filipino origin, 41
“As a Nepali, I am connected with my own culture … bounded by culture. … I used to feel awkward previously when the professor used to call me by name when I joined college because we aren’t used to it. We are used to using certain words like sir or madam. But here, one is called by name or the last name. Even till the last year … I used to feel awkward. [Also, we’re] hardworking. In a way, I have come from a still-developing country where many facilities are not available. Therefore, we must work hard in order to settle our life. I think [everyone should feel this way].”
Immigrant woman of Nepalese origin, 29 (translated from Nepali)
“I’ve just seen and heard so many stories and know so many [Filipino] people [who’ve] succeeded at being in C-suite positions in whatever industry they’re in … this is just an example – if you look at like the dynamic of a lot of our [cultural nonprofit organization] board members, half of the board are C-suite executives and the other half are ‘entre-pinoys’ [Filipino entrepreneurs] and that’s what I think makes the dynamic of the organization so strong. … You know, 10, 15, 20 years ago, you wouldn’t see like vice president at like Viacom CBS or vice president at Paramount Pictures, you know, like … you just wouldn’t see that but now like it’s happening faster so you know, to me, I think that was kind of like what it’s like now being Filipino in the U.S., like those doors are open now.”
U.S.-born man of Filipino origin, 48
“In my opinion, no matter how multiethnic a country is, in the end … I don’t think they can be blended in. People even tell my husband, who was born and raised in the U.S., that he speaks good English. Even though my husband was born and raised in the United States, he has Asian skin, so he hears that he is good at English and he is treated like a stranger. … I’m a minority and have a boundary between races that cannot be crossed, but sometimes I ignore it, have a job and friends.”
Immigrant woman of Korean origin, 31 (translated from Korean)
“I think it’s something to be proud of. I am proud to be Korean and proud of the food and culture.”
Immigrant man of Korean origin, 24 (translated from Korean)
“Culture, humor, mabuhay [‘long live!’], pride.”
U.S.-born man of Filipino origin, 35
“Japanese people are mainly treated as Asians. It was kind of shocking for me at first.”
Immigrant man of Japanese origin, 24 (translated from Japanese)
“[It’s] that low standards thing … there are no opportunities in Myanmar, living together with mother and supported by her … life is complete. It’s OK for life. The goal is just that. But when they came here, people face a lot of challenges. They have to learn it when they arrive here – survival of the fittest. … [I mentioned] ‘low education’ [meaning that] bachelor’s degrees [earned] in Myanmar are not enough. … About ‘low knowledge for democracy,’ Myanmar highlights the race, religion, [so Burmese] grew up in a judgmental environment. When Burmese arrive here [in the U.S., they emphasize ethnic rights]. So I, myself, also emphasize ethnic rights. I learned those when I arrived here.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 29 (translated from Burmese)
“Filipinos have a good reputation but we get shafted a bit by the government. Also really good dessert.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 41
“I think we’re often overlooked … in the workplace, I think. I feel like a lot of the contributions that Chinese Americans or Asian Americans made are very overlooked or like swept under the rug and not given credit. Just like in education, like a common thing going on [nationwide] … how they want to limit [Chinese student admissions]. I don’t know how to put this, but I just think it’s absurd. … They kind of feel like it’s unfair. Other groups are underrepresented, so they want to kind of even it out.”
U.S.-born man of Chinese origin, 30
“[Being Filipino in the U.S. means having] pride in one’s culture, community, traditions. Adopting a new culture while maintaining your roots. History. [There are] generational differences.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 27
“One, [we] smile. Two, [we help] others. Three, [Sri Lankans] have good experience in doing some work, they put in a lot of effort. They do anything with a great interest.”
Immigrant man of Sri Lankan origin, 65 (translated from Sinhala)
“The first thing that came to my mind is that I think we have one of the larger Asian communities in the U.S. compared to – I just think about some of my friends who are maybe like other ethnicities like Filipino or Cambodian or Indonesian. I guess, maybe in my area, I feel like there are a lot more Chinese in the area.”
U.S.-born man of Chinese origin, 22
“I do believe that we’re more open-minded because we understand there is, I guess, a diverse culture. We have really different cultural backgrounds, where like Taiwanese people or Asian people in general are very family oriented. In America, they’re very individual, all about like individuality, and your own freedom, and all of that. I feel like, I guess, that makes us more open-minded because we can see both sides and think in both languages. … Then I feel like we’re more determined since our parents are immigrants, and they work so hard for us to get a better life here and live the way we live. So we are definitely more determined to give back a better life for them, too, when they’re older. Yeah, and we’re privileged because we get to live the life that we live compared to how they lived back then in Taiwan. We get a lot of stuff that they probably didn’t have when they were younger.”
U.S.-born woman of Taiwanese origin, 22
“I do think in a way it is like, debilitating as a community when we are so closed-minded to like other ethnicities … when [I go to this one bar], like I swear to God when you go in there and if [an outside] person walks in everybody stares, everybody looks, turns their head, they start whispering a little bit. And I feel like that’s kind of unfortunate just because like … it’s a bar, people go there to drink, have fun. Same thing as like interracial dating, I feel like [to] most [Hmong] elders it’s still like frowned upon. And it’s kind of like unfortunate … for sure we are very cliquey. Growing up, like I said, I only had four friends and they were Hmong … but it will be nice to like get out of that little circle.”
U.S.-born woman of Hmong origin, 24
“[I think of] Taiwanese street food; [being a] minority … [Taiwanese] used to live in the Asian continent or their family used to live in Asia. [I also think of] skin color.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 37 (translated from Mandarin)
“I worked as an Uber driver as a part-time job. So I meet a lot of people. In my app, it is mentioned that I am a Sri Lankan. So they say that ‘Oh I have been there, I went there recently, people there are very good.’ Immediately after seeing me, they try to treat me like an Indian or a Bangladesh national. But after browsing into the app, they say, ‘Ah, Sri Lankan, you guys are doing great, man.’ When I drive an Uber cab, some people share their experience with me. That is all always proud, you know.”
Immigrant man of Sri Lankan origin, 34 (translated from Sinhala)
“[We are] hardworking.”
Immigrant man of Vietnamese origin, 58 (translated from Vietnamese)
“I am just experiencing a current identity crisis with myself as a Fil-Am because of what has happened in the past year with COVID. … There’s this struggle in me that I’m like, well, I’ve been forced to assimilate [in the U.S.] and now what do I do? I still feel like I want to share my culture [and] I want to talk about it, hence my career as a teacher.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 52
“My thoughts? I am thinking. It’s [a] little bit difficult because what does it mean to be a Lao in the U.S.? What comes to my mind [is] it’s more difficult sometimes because of the plan of living we don’t have a lot of money … so I don’t know, something like that to looking for answer.”
Immigrant woman of Laotian origin, 49 (translated from Lao)
“[Being Filipino means] struggling, pride, [having an] identity crisis.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 52
“I have high hopes for the Chinese language. For example, mainland China has become strong in power [recently], so if there are fewer opportunities in the United States, you could still go back to Hong Kong, Taiwan or mainland China. To me, even if we were born here, we ultimately do not really belong here.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 47 (translated from Mandarin)
“We are hardworking, capable, willing to integrate into the American society.”
Immigrant woman of Taiwanese origin, 47 (translated from Mandarin)
“I used to say that I was just Chinese when I was a lot younger because I didn’t really understand the difference between Chinese and Taiwanese. When you tell people that you’re Taiwanese, they kind of don’t – well, back then they didn’t really know what that was. So then I’d just be like, ‘It’s Chinese.’ So I feel like there’s a difference. I see a difference now though, because when people ask what type of Chinese you are, you say Taiwanese. Then they’re like, ‘Oh, okay.’”
U.S.-born woman of Taiwanese origin, 22
“I have a couple of friends who have been like, ‘Oh my god, you’re as White as my ass.’ But that’s because they know me. Otherwise I find that there’s a, ‘So but where are you from?’ Like even in professional settings when they feel comfortable enough to ask you. ‘So – so where are you from?’ ‘Oh, I was born in [names city], Colorado. Like at [the hospital], down the street.’ ‘No, but like where are you from?’ ‘My mother’s womb?’”
U.S.-born woman of Indian origin, 43
“I don’t know that people who aren’t Indian American see any difference between the [Indians and Indian Americans] unless they know you personally.”
U.S.-born woman of Indian origin, 43
“I think that [learning] Chinese is getting increasingly important. Many of my friends send their children to the Chinese school. For example, the children of some of my friends got promoted quickly in their company simply because they could speak Chinese.”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 56 (translated from Mandarin)
“Elevate yourself, because more often than not, in our culture we get complacent. What we keep forgetting is because we’re here in America, life here is different. We forget that, hey, even if you have a good income now, that’s not going to last forever, right? There’s no such thing as forever, so yeah, always think of your life 10 years ahead of now. So, elevate yourself. If for example, I’m a manager now, do I see myself still as the same role in 10 years?”
Immigrant woman of Filipino origin, 38
“When I was growing up, people would just be like, ‘Oh, where is that? Are you Chinese or Japanese?’ Or sometimes kids would pull up the corners of their eyes or say stuff like ‘Ching Chong.’ And I’m from a pretty diverse part of the country too, so that’s messed up. I mean, I know that they’re kids, and they don’t know any better, but at the same time, what are their parents teaching them at home for them to act like that? [People] ask me if I’m this other ethnicity … that’s basically what’s happened to me most often. More broadly, as an Asian person, I feel like there’s that stereotype that Asian students are high achievers academically. … I was a pretty mediocre student, and math and science were actually my weakest subjects. … Teachers expect you to fit a certain stereotype and if you’re not, then you’re a disappointment, but at the same time, even if you are good at math and science, that doesn’t just mean that you’re fitting a stereotype. It’s like your own achievement, but your teachers might think, ‘Oh, it’s because they’re Asian,’ and that diminishes your achievement.”
U.S.-born woman of Korean origin, 27
“People think Indonesian living in the U.S. is definitely well-off. Economically good, and more open-minded. [Those of us who are here are privileged], because indeed out of 250 million Indonesians, I get to be here. And I personally never dream when I was a child that I’m going to live in the U.S. And indeed this is a [great] privilege from God. We can be here with very good facilities with everything. … We can be much better, we can progress. … The idea is that if Indonesians work in America, they must be rich … well-off so that they can help their family in Indonesia. [I think that’s in general true.]”
Immigrant man of Indonesian origin, 31 (translated from Indonesian)
“A lot of Filipinos come over to be nurses and stuff … and they’ll take the jobs at the nursing homes that American-born people don’t necessarily want, and every time you hear someone talk about a Filipino nurse, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh. They’re so caring and they’re so good at their job and they’re so hardworking.’ Like, they just have a really good reputation.”
U.S.-born woman of Filipino origin, 41
“I saw some [Cambodians in the U.S.] hate Cambodia [because of its government], they requested to make economic sanctions. They don’t understand that by doing like this it will affect Cambodians [in Cambodia].”
Immigrant man of Cambodian origin, 47 (translated from Khmer)
“Even after coming here, the Nepalese haven’t forgotten their culture. … Nepalese can work in any sort of environment. Everyone [sees that they are hardworking. … Also] I haven’t seen a Nepalese involved in crimes to a great extent. … If people reside here, I have found many of them following the law and order, following the rules.”
Immigrant man of Nepalese origin, 40 (translated from Nepali)
“[Japan is an] ally. Unlike China, America and Japan have been primary allies for a long time. They are allies, not enemies. Also, Japanese people have good common sense [and are] respectful. And [I also think of] Daiso. A Japanese dollar store. Just one dollar but high-quality products. All of my friends just love Daiso.”
Immigrant woman of Japanese origin, 45 (translated from Japanese)
“I want to educate [others] that are new here in the U.S. … I will help them with language.”
Immigrant woman of Laotian origin, 52 (translated from Lao)
“I supposed that ethnic Chinese was a Chinese people who grew up in a foreign country.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 32 (translated from Mandarin)
“We speak several languages. Many westerners may not have left their country. They sometimes feel superior, so I think we can let them know about the places we come from, like what is Chinese culture, make them understand or even be influenced by it. Then … whether personal or at work, we can try to influence [others] positively.”
Immigrant woman of Chinese origin, 32 (translated from Mandarin)
“My first challenge [as a Cambodian in the U.S. is] culture. We need to learn their culture in order to adapt to our living. The next one is job. We need to seek … a job that guarantees our survival, covering our daily expenses. And the third one is language. Language is a must in order to adapt well to our living.”
Immigrant man of Cambodian origin, 59 (translated from Khmer)
“[Having] a richer background, can write in and speak more languages, self-improvement, [demonstrating] Chinese merits to Americans, [being an] influence [to others who] brings change, more knowledgeable [in some fields].”
Immigrant man of Chinese origin, 53 (translated from Mandarin)
“I think most people think Chinese people are smart, especially in math and science. I’m not really a math person. I don’t do numbers. I don’t like it. My parents have that expectation as well, thinking I’ll do great in math class and all of that, but that didn’t happen either. So out of that expectation of other people, I think it’s definitely very pressuring in some sense. I definitely have a pressure on that to be smart on every subject because I’m Asian. But I think that by the time it goes by, as I get – I think it just doesn’t matter anymore. I can just be good at what I do and what I want to do as my career or in my field. As long as I’m good in my field, I think that’s fine.”
U.S.-born woman of Chinese origin, 22
“We who came here from Myanmar have to change mindsets. What we are concerned about now is [social] classes and youths having higher thoughts, they will not give up easily. … The older people who came from Myanmar [have lower opportunity, but if] youths go to school here, they have the same opportunity as the people here. They are equal. … Our education was low standard [in Myanmar], with lower opportunities here. I can’t compete with [people here] when working. Some can do it.”
Immigrant man of Burmese origin, 67 (translated from Burmese)
“I think the best part of having any ethnicity in the U.S. is being able to introduce that culture to other people. So I see the more I learn about what it’s like to be Japanese and then Japanese American, I feel like I can share that with people who have no idea what Girls’ Day is, or certain food is, or why we hang a koi fish outside on Boys’ Day. So I feel like it’s a way to kind of contribute to the community by introducing a different community to each other.”
U.S.-born man of Japanese origin, 61
“It feels like Thai people in USA are in harmony as a group. [It feels] heartwarming while I’m living in USA. At least, we have another Thai community here; they can help me if I don’t know anything. I believe that Thai people came here to improve themselves or make money. Overall, they want a better quality of life.”
Immigrant woman of Thai origin, 40 (translated from Thai)