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Growing Up Asian in America

Amelia Lian Ny, Winner
5th Grade
Fairfield

My name is Amelia Ny. I am nine years old. I live in Fairfield, California and I am Asian American. I go to Cordelia Hills Elementary School, which holds about 800 students from grades K-6. My school has about 15 Asian American kids. The rest of the kids are a mix of Caucasian Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, and other races. I really like this school because it is where I get my education. Most importantly, it is where I met my friends. However, the downside of this school is kids teasing me when I eat Asian food and this makes me feel uncomfortable and causes me a lot of trouble with my parents.

My parents are from Southeast Asia. My mom was born in Vietnam and my dad was born in Cambodia. Although we live in America, at home we eat Asian food everyday. For school, my mom packs me Asian food regularly because she wants to preserve our culture. I really like Asian food, and I thought that it was normal to eat it at school. However, during lunch, non-Asian students would look at my food and said mean things like “ew” and “are you really eating that”. They made faces of disgust and made me feel ashamed of my food. Because I really wanted to fit in with other kids, sometimes I do not eat, which made me hungry and sometimes I cannot focus on my schoolwork.

My parents got angry when they found out that I did not eat my lunch. When I told them about the kids at school, they got angrier. They were furious because when they were growing up, kids made them feel less than who they were because they were different. My dad said “that even though the kids at my school are innocent, the consequences of not doing anything to stop it could hurt me for the rest of my life and this is how one person or race makes another person or race feel unequal in America”. It can start by someone making you feel ashamed about the food you eat when you are young.

It is painful to hear other kids saying mean things about who you are or the food you eat. I do not want other kids to go through what my parents and I went through. All kids should feel safe and proud of what they eat or who they are at school. That is why if I were President of the United States of America, I would propose a law that would require schools to serve more cultural food. Not just Asian food but Mexican, Fillipino, and Indian food. With this law, kids would learn to enjoy different types of food as a way of learning about other peoples’ culture. This would prevent kids from picking on other kids’ food and allow all kids to feel equal.