It only takes three generations to lose a language, they say.
My mother, who came to the U.S. in her late twenties, tried to get my siblings and me to speak Chinese. For a while she attempted it at home, until our refusal to answer in the language wore her down. Then we did the Saturday school thing, where we’d get up at the crack of dawn to drive an hour each way so we could congregate with the other second-generation non-speakers to be shamed by the teachers about our lack of fluency. It just wouldn’t stick; we were too American — a culture that neither values nor teaches its children to be bilingual.
Every four years, people get hyped for the Olympics and watch a bunch of obscure sports like trampoline and rhythmic gymnastics just so they can claim patriotism when an athlete from their country wins. “The biathlon? OMG I love that sport!” says no one outside of Scandinavia.
For Asians, every TV show is like the Olympics, except we know no geographical boundaries. China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia — it doesn’t matter. I’ll even cheer on an Indian or Pakistani if they’re available because, you know, they’re technically Asian too. From “America’s Next Top Model” to “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team” (yes, that’s a real show), I find myself continually rooting for the one Asian contestant available. Who cares if she can’t take a good picture and fights with everyone in the house? You do you, Gina!