Being a first generation American, and a Chinese and Colombian mix, hasn’t always been an easy task. Both of my parents are proud and very culturally loyal, which attributes to my ability to speak both Spanish and Cantonese fluently, use chopsticks, salsa dance and have a short temper! Not to mention, my “exotic look”, which guarantees people will always ask, “what are you?” before “how are you?” Being raised in such a “different” environment, full of multicultural elements, made it frustrating when all I wanted to do was fit in like other normal American kids.
I always believed my parents were almost too different for each other; my mother: a hot-blooded Latina, and my father: a stubborn meek Chinese man. So it wasn’t too surprising when my parents divorced while I was still a young girl. I was always trying to escape the fighting, and the drama. I even went as far as “escaping” to God’s Country out west to find myself. I’ll forever be grateful I did because it’s out there I found my true love: Nature.
I completed my first two years of my undergrad at the University of Montana-Missoula.While attending the university, I learned to use my vibrant personality to meet people and develop friendships. Where normal, shy teenagers were wary to boldly approach their classmates, I was eagerly introducing myself to everyone and anyone. I worked hard in my classes; I was involved in Intramural Basketball and Softball. I volunteered in the Flagship program, working as an editor for a local newspaper. I volunteered at school, church, and sorority events. I did some modeling and fell in love with it. I was always on the go, with school, work and extracurricular activities.
Then almost 2 years ago, I lost my best friend in a car accident and soon after my uncle to a heart attack. In the aftermath of these tragedies, I experienced changes in my life and myself I was unprepared to handle. Where I was once outgoing in every area of my life, I became withdrawn, overwhelmed with the loss of my loved ones. At only 19 years old, I found myself batting depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. As hard as I tried to move on, I found I couldn’t do it alone.
Finally, I sought comfort in the family that I had distanced myself from and decided to move home. I took the year off from the school, to properly heal and learn to cope with my grief. My mother’s family comforted me in such ways I could never have anticipated. They all individually took the time to stop by and encourage me in words, hugs and gifts. I began to heal. Also during that time, I began to work for my father in Pennsylvania, helping at his store and learning his business.
Today, as a 21-year-old woman, with a strong work ethic, a proud respect for my multicultural heritage and a determined spirit, I want nothing more than to acquire my degree from a place I know will fully suit my academic needs as well as my desire to grow in my diversity.