Diamond Bar High School

Asian high school students speak out against hurtful stereotypes and labels

The term “Fresh off the boat” is frequently used among Diamond Bar High students to describe people who have recently moved to the United States from an Asian country and,  generally, don’t speak English very well. Many students don’t know much about FOBs, and judge them according to what the label they’ve been given suggests.

Moving to a new country brings many new challenges, the main one being learning a new language. Sophomore Chowun Yun, who moved from Korea two years ago, and sophomore Yeri Jung, who moved from Korea one year and six months ago, both feel that other people think negatively of them because of their lack of experience in speaking English. Jung has even faced situations where people have laughed at her for not pronouncing things correctly.

“People think I’m weird because I’m not good at English and it makes me sad,” Jung said.

In Yun’s experience, she has also interacted with less than cordial students.

“Learning the culture is hard and uncomfortable for me. White people are rude to us just because we’re different and we don’t speak English,” Yun said.

Moving to America also proved to be a culture shock for many students, like senior Crystal Lee, who moved from China four years ago.

“The way people talk and communicate and play around with each other [is] crazy. It is more casual than in China,” Lee said.

Along with language and culture, some students find it hard to adapt to school. Jung was surprised to find that she had to pay for lunch at DBHS, as meals at her old school in Korea was free. Yun was shocked at the larger size of the school, and mentions that it was intimidating compared to her old school.

However, seniors Kevin Sun, who moved from China three years ago, and Leo Au-Yeung, who moved from China 18 months ago, both feel that there wasn’t too much to adjust to. The only real challenge for them was the language aspect.

Each student had mixed feelings about whether or not DBHS is a good choice for students like them. Lee, Sun, and Yun agreed that if there were fewer FOBs, DBHS would be a better environment for new English speakers.

“For the people who just came I think they shouldn’t be here because they will never have the chance to speak English,” Sun said, referring to the large number of Chinese speakers.

Nonetheless, DBHS has programs to help students that are new to the country transition into the new education system, as well as teachers who are well equipped to guide them.

“The teachers are good because they can understand the students who cannot speak English and they teach classes easier like ELD and shelter classes,” Jung said.

In fact, DBHS seems to hold a reputation with students coming from a different country.

“Before I came to DBHS I heard that there are a lot of Asians in there. People said it’s a good environment to study but its level of competitiveness is really high,” Au-Yeung said.

It is becoming extremely popular for foreigners, especially from Asia, to move to America to get a better education. Many of these students, referred to by the Los Angeles Times as “Parachute Kids,” are not able to move with their whole families and so they stay with someone willing to house them, as arranged through various programs.

Often times their guardian’s may not play an active role in their lives, leaving the children with a lack of supervision and care.

In literature you often hear the idiom, “every dark cloud has a silver lining.” This can also be applied to moving to a new country. While each student had a hard time leaving their friends behind and adjusting to their new lives, in the end they are glad about their move to the United States.

Simple things like seeing new sights, getting to speak English, and experiencing prom and homecoming help these students stay positive while they are longing for home.

“I am happy that I got to move here,” Lee said. “I have a lot more freedom.”

—-Emily Jacobsson