Are you a high school aged student or a parent of one? Are you interested in the Asian American experience and how it affects perceptions of identity? Read on to see how you can help and be rewarded with a $10 gift card!
My Name is Wells Ling, and I am currently a graduate student at Saint Louis University working towards my doctorate in developmental psychology. As a second generation Taiwanese American growing up in the Midwest, I rarely wondered or truly appreciated my family’s culture, heritage, and traditions. These traditions and values of minority culture just never came up in my day-to-day experiences of going to and from basketball practice, Boy Scout meetings, and birthday parties. Even when I attended Chinese language school every Sunday, it was perceived as an additional set of homework my non-Chinese friends did not have to do, rather than an opportunity for me to explore my cultural background. It was not until I reached college and was surrounded by a more diverse population did I become interested in learning about my ethnicity, the implications of identifying with this ethnic group, and the issues affecting those of my ethnicity. This new identity had a great effect on me by providing me with a new perspective on the issues that directly impacted my everyday life.
THE ASIAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IS UNIQUE
This new identity and passion has also influenced my professional life, particularly when it came to choosing a topic of research in graduate school. Hoping to understand my own life experiences, I began to conduct research in cross cultural psychology focusing on ethnic identity development in Asian Americans. I felt that research in this area was particularly important as “cross cultural” psychology tended to focus on the African American and Latino population, but took these results and made overarching theoretical conclusions which were applied across races. I, along with many of my Asian American peers, continue to assert the importance of distinguishing the experiences of the different races as research has shown that what applies to one racial group will not necessarily apply to other racial groups. The same can be said about different cultures and ethnicities as these distinct groups have differing parenting styles and emphasize different values and beliefs that ultimately lead to different developmental paths.
THE CHALLENGE FOR TAIWANESE AMERICANS
One of the most concerning research findings I have come across during my time in academics is that in as little as three generations, ethnic minority children often lose much of their family’s cultural knowledge, cultural awareness, and cultural orientation. I believe that for smaller ethnic groups such as individuals of Taiwanese descent, this finding should be even more concerning as the resources for cultural knowledge are already scarce and difficult to find as it is.
RESEARCH CAN HELP
In an effort to combat this cultural attrition, I am conducting a study that I hope you will be a part of. This study plans to examine how specific social interactions influence individual perceptions of their own ethnic group as well as whether an individual chooses to explore their ethnic identity. For this study we are currently seeking Asian American high school students (8th to 12th grade) to fill out an online survey describing their experiences growing up. To encourage participation, all participants will receive $10 to Amazon.com. It is my hope that the results from this study will contribute to the creation of strategies and programming that facilitate identity development in future generations. While the current study is open to all Asian American groups, I believe it is particularly important that Taiwanese Americans participate so that the field of psychology is made aware that Taiwanese Americans are unique in both their experiences and obstacles they face growing up.
SIGN UP AND FILL OUT SURVEY ONLINE
To find out more about the study and the research that has gone into it, please visit www.slu.edu/~wling/. Because the target population are considered minors, parents of interested individuals need to sign their child up using the study’s sign up form which can be found at www.slu.edu/~wling/sign-up/. If you have any questions about the study, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
photo credit: Taylor Wu