93 pages • 3 hours readAmerica Ferrera
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Lifestyle brand founder Joy Cho discusses her struggle with growing up in America with Thai parents. Cho explains how she dealt with assimilation as a child: “I made it my job to teach my parents everything they needed to know about how to be ‘American parents’” (99). Like many others in this essay collection, Cho’s attempts to fit in included abandoning her immigrant parents’ customs. For example, she taught them to make her American-style lunches instead of sending her to school with Thai curry because her classmates made fun of the smell. She also encouraged her parents to celebrate American holidays and to forego a hyper-diligence that included their support of constant studying and little downtime. Cho encouraged them to speak to her friends—a behavior they viewed as invasive—and allow her to participate in sleepovers.
As Cho grew up, however, she began embracing her Thai background and her parents’ traditions. She wanted also to introduce her friends to her Thai heritage so she began to celebrate her heritage instead of shunning it. Now she welcomes sharing her unique heritage whenever possible.