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Yeung, Wai Sik (Wilson)

Asian American Studies 20B


Feb. 20th, 2009

Reflection Paper
In Transforming Asian America: Globalization and Contemporary Immigration to the
United States, Min Zhou and J.V. Gatewood indentify the assimilation theory that predicts a
linear trajectory toward structural integration into the mainstream of society. Is this model a
valid prediction of how well second generations assimilate into the American way of life? In my
opinion, there are more challenges awaiting the coming generations to be fully assimilated into
contemporary America.
First, most immigrants choose to reside in specific regions of the city that they
immigrated to. For example, I observed that most Chinese immigrants to San Francisco will
reside in the Sunset or Chinatown district. Thus, without these particular districts, they easily
find others who share the same language or culture in their community. Gradually, many
immigrants lose the incentive to find any motivation to learn and blend into the American
culture. Their following generations are likely to follow the same trends in failing to recognize
the need to be assimilated if they continue to contain themselves in a particular neighborhood.
Second, the popular model minority myth also challenges the classical assimilation
theory. This model minority myth falsely constructs Asian Americans as the model of success
while obscuring the challenges that others face. It creates a false sense of superiority and
otherness that defines Asian Americans as a separate social class, preventing assimilation. In
my high school environment, Asians are often given a separate academic rank because of our
academic successes. Thus, many students and teachers demonstrate a presumption that any
academic success is made possible by an Asian rather than simply an American. Not until I
enrolled into this class did I learn that success is not a necessary product of every Asian,
especially with the presence of others struggling as mentioned in lecture.
Gathering my observations, I think it is quite difficult to determine whether these
challenges are true barriers to assimilation. But the one thing that I am certain about is that not
every immigrant sees the immediacy or significance to assimilate into the American way of life.
As an immigrant from Hong Kong, I often associate myself with Hong Kong or China more so
than America. Does it mean that I fail to assimilate? Or does it mean that I dont see the
necessity to be integrated? In my opinion, the question of how well the assimilation theory
functions rests on our personal value.