In “The Making of Culture, Identity, Ethnicity among Asian American Youth”, Min Zhou and Jennifer Lee describe the youth as people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four who are making the transition between adolescence and adulthood. The youth are those who are attempting to discover their place in society and their true selves. “Today, to be young is to be hip, cool, fun loving, carefree, and able to follow one’s heart’s desires…Culture, on the other hand, is defined as the ways, forms and patterns of life in which socially identifiable groups interact with the environment and express their symbolic and material existences.” (3). Zhou and Lee state that it is not common for laypeople to acknowledge the existence of a distinct Asian American youth culture. Asian American youths are almost invisible because they are stereotyped as the model minority. In other words, Asian American youths don’t have any qualities that stand out – they follow all the rules, are quiet, succeed in academics, aren’t particularly beautiful or handsome, and don’t know how to have fun.
Here in Isla Vista, I’ve received an abundant amount of remarks and questions about my Asian heritage from people who I barely know. Most of the time these comments are made under social settings – at parties or events. I’ve had a few people compliment my looks followed by the claim that I do not look like I am fully Asian. I never know if I should feel pleased or offended because I almost feel like they are happy with the fact that I am 100% Chinese but, at least to them, do not look like a “typical” Chinese female. I went to a high school that was known for having strong academic scores, and the student body also consisted mostly of Asian Americans. With a GPA of 3.7, I fell in the bottom 50th percentile of my class of 600 kids. As one of the three kids in my graduating class who went to UCSB, a “party school”, many of my peers laughed at my choice of school. Now that I am at UCSB, I’ve experienced a lot of remarks from non-Asian Americans about my studiousness, probably simply because I am Asian. It is because of this that I feel like my identity is still very fluid, and I can identify with Zhou and Lee’s description of youth as those who are trying to find their place in society.