Column to the Editor: Swarms of Asians

Kana Miyamoto

I am often asked why Asians stay in their own groups though they come to the United States to learn English. I have had the same question since I first came to SBCC. I, too, noticed that Asians here often stay within their own groups. I think there are several reasons why Asian flock together. These reasons are the lack of confidence about conversing in English, mental problems, and cultural issues. Our difficulty communicating with native English speakers is the most apparent reason. In my case, I have noticed that conversations with my American classmates don’t last long. If I ask them something, they answer, that is all. The conversation tends not to continue. We are supposed to keep trying to have conversations with native English speakers, but talking with international students makes native speakers tired because it requires a lot of energy of both speakers and listeners. It’s also difficult to show my own personality in English. Asian students are thought to have quiet characters, but that is not completely true. We just can’t talk as well as native speakers, and we are afraid of bothering other people. It’s always such a challenge to speak English aggressively in college. On the other hand, it’s so easy to speak our mother language with our fellow native speakers. We can say what we are really thinking and have long conversations.

Another reason why Asian tend to make groups is due to stress. If you have gone to foreign countries where people speak other languages, you understand how impatient a feeling it is not to be able to express what you want to say. What’s more, feeling stress in a foreign country is not only caused by language problems, but also by other issues, such as worrying about money, living by oneself, making friends, and attending college. Every international student has similar stress or pressures like these. Talking with people whose situation is similar can ease their stress, especially with people from the same country. We feel a connection between us. Being with students from same country also ease our homesickness or culture shocks, particularly students who live alone like me. Thus, we often gravitate in groups of students from own country.

Other reasons are related to cultural issues. I guess people in general have a tendency to flock together. Putting oneself in a group is a habit of survival. Being in a clique is just comforting for us. Even in our own country, we are apt to make groups, for example, in schools, companies and neighborhoods.

To summarize, we Asians do have particular reasons why we flock together. We try to adopt ourselves to this country. We also try to take advantage of being America and want to make American friends. We really appreciate it when American students understand our challenges and try to talk with us more.