CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: Interviewing blogger Kyle Liang

I have had to redefine how I, as a first-generation-born Asian American, fit into that America. That has not been easy.

-Kyle Liang

Meet Kyle Liang, a Taiwanese-Malaysian American.  He runs a witty personal blog called Learning The Alphabet, where he has received over 100,000 views writing about his experiences as an “Asian American in a not-so-Asian America.”

Given his valuable insight, I am very grateful that he took the time out to answer a couple questions.

Note: This is the abridged version.  You can read the full interview here!

Q:  Over the years of writing/updating your blog, what has been an important revelation or insight you’ve gained about your identity as an Asian-American?

I realized that a lot of us–Asian American, African American, European American–are going through the same problems just in different ways.  When I first started my blog, there was a girl from Kenya who would always comment about how she has had very similar experiences.  Over the last few years, my blog has gotten me into conversations with people that I didn’t think I could identify with.  It has been a pleasure learning about other people, how much our stories overlap, and how we’ve dealt with our problems differently.

Q:  What sorts of life-situations have raised questions for you about “who you are?”

Kyle, of Connecticut was born to a Malaysian mother and Taiwanese father.

I think that I started asking myself “who I am” when I was in preschool.  There were only 3 Chinese kids in my class including me, my best friend but the other kid was pretty overweight, so me and my other Chinese friend made it a point that we were not to be associated with him (I know, we were mean) because we were afraid that everyone in our class would associate us together since the three of us were Asian.

The next few years, I was teased for my squinty eyes, food I ate, and other traits attributed to my race and upbringing. The last thing I wanted during that time was to be associated with being Asian. I eventually overcame this insecurity by high school, but when I moved into my college, where the overwhelming majority [of students] are white and come from wealthy families, I felt like I had to start redefining my perception of America… how I, as a first-generation-born Asian American, fit into that America. That has not been easy.

Q:  Your writing is very humorous, and I have literally LOL’d reading through your blog.  How much of a role do you feel that humor has played in your life?

When it comes to discussing sometimes sensitive topics such as the ones on my blog, I like to bring in humor because it makes it easier to read.  I think that introducing humor to topics that are difficult to discuss  can make others more willing to listen and hear what you have to say.  I think that laughter is something any two people can share, and [can] create a bridge for understanding, for learning, and for shattering preconceived notions and dissolving racial stereotypes.

Q: What has kept you blogging after all of this time?

My concern is that the Asian-American experience is often neglected when we talk about discrimination and adversity in America.  I don’t want to speak on behalf of Asian-American people, I just want to make sure that there are Asian-American voices being heard.  So in that regard, I don’t feel like I’m trying to keep it going, instead I feel like I’m trying to make sure my voice doesn’t fall silent.

 

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Exams And Language Barriers

Dear readership, as the Fall 2017 semester reaches its ending, I am now publishing my Asian-studies related term papers here.

With Thanksgiving Break over, stomachs packed to capacity, and spiritual rejuvenation, the final-stretch of the semester has begun!  With multiple exams, research papers, and final projects on the horizon, students generally experience some elevated stress.  Though I’ve been super busy, I’ve kept reflecting on the omnipresent language barriers (again) faced by my exchange-student friends.  In particular, I worry a bit for the Freshman: 18 year old students readying for their first college exam cycle whilst juggling a foreign language.

Some basic considerations…

Although these students passed an English proficiency test to obtain their Student Visa to attend American universities, passing these standardized tests does not necessarily equate with fluency.  Just like the SAT or ACT, these tests have patterns and nuances which a test-taker can examine and study accordingly.  Who can blame them? If a foreigner intends on receiving an American education, why would they not approach a standardized test this way? As with all standardized tests, strategy is the name of the game. Unfortunately, this methodological approach does not guarantee ‘A’s.

Due to the Model Minority Stereotype, few truly consider that Chinese exchange-students face the same challenges as any American young adult. No nationality or ethnicity escapes naturally struggles like social adjustment, feuding with roommates, and procrastinating.  Thankfully, Fairfield University recognizes the importance of mental health and offers services to aid with adjustment, a process difficult enough in one’s native language.

Hopefully, the university’s faculty and leaders will sympathize with the exchange-students in particular.a

Whether they receive a semester or four years’ worth of American education, these students are still tuition-paying members of the community.  Accordingly, they deserve equal representation in the university’s development of on-campus resources.  In writing this, I appreciate that the commendable resources offered by the university dedicated to promoting students’ mental health.  Rather, I just pose the question:  How can our preexisting on-campus services specialize in exchange-students‘ well-being?

Please note: the school benefits when hundreds of exchange students–from all corners of the globe–rave to their families about the quality of Fairfield University.

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