Essay by jd2k1University, Bachelor'sA, May 2003

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Memories of my homeland are nothing more than a blur as I try to journey back into my childhood. My assimilation into the American culture took place in 1984 when I was only four years old. Nine family members squished into a one-bedroom apartment located in a run down, crime infested area of Long Beach with only the hope of leading a better life as an inspiration for getting up each day. My story sounds pretty generic compared to many other immigrant stories. What makes my story interesting is how my perspective on culture, religion, and life as a whole matures through the year while my parents' remain largely unaffected by the transition into American society.

My parents came from mainland China, although I was conceived in neighboring Vietnam. They practice Buddhism, which is the most popular religion in mainland China. My parents grew up in poverty and were strictly disciplined by my grandparents.

My dad reminisces of times when his teacher would feed him rice because he was such a hardworking student. His culture, tradition, and religious belief expected no less of him. Both of my parents retained what they went through and made an effort to assure that my siblings and I would be bounded by the same ideals. But they never could imagine that by moving to America to pursue a better future for their kids that it would adversely cause their kids to reject the ideals which they are trying to enforce.

I was not very religious as a child. I was too busy trying to understand my new environment. My parents, on the other hand, continue to practice Buddhism and believe in the traditional values set forth by their ancestors. We always have an area in the house dedicated to a shrine of some...