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Experiences as a Minority Student

As I sit in front of my computer screen, I ponder about the many things I could possibly say about my life and possibly what others like me go through. I could list the little inside jokes we have about the things people say to us, or I could go way too deep into my life story. But I constantly wonder to myself how authentic is authentic. Can I be the one to show you the lives of others? Am I the perfect door in the apartment when there are so many stories out there behind every other door?

No, I am not. But we can start from a bit of my story and move on from there. My name is Jena Lui, and I represent a minority in college. More specifically, I join along with about 2-3% of students at Susquehanna University as I identify as Asian.

Let’s set things straight: I come from an area where it was a tad bit more diverse demographically. However, I was still as much of a minority back then as I am now. But I do not think it is a bad thing. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mindset that even if I was different, I was at least still me.

Nevertheless, I do hear some comments that wake me up from my comfortable bubble sometimes. Particularly, in high school, I had people always assuming I was good at science and math courses even if I did not tell anyone my grades. They are technically not wrong, but it was not really something I was magically talented at. The secret to good grades is never your ethnicity, but your efforts in learning the subject. Next, another stereotype is that I play an instrument (piano or violin). I will never understand why anyone would associate me with music because, like many others in this world, I cannot read music notes. I only memorized the notes in middle school because I was aiming for a good grade in music class. Then, there is the worry that I will get mixed up for another Asian or that it happens behind my back. And above all, I hope people do not associate my name with people who eat dogs.

The list goes on and on.

I really want to leave it all behind some days. It is a hidden obstacle I never really opened my apartment door to (but I think it slid underneath the cracks and decided not to pay rent). I came to an amazing school that recognizes and celebrates diversity. I have a rock with the words “We got you” etched on it to prove the point. Yet recently, I encountered someone who asked me if I was an exchange student. Now the individual I speak about meant no harm with the question. But it got me thinking that being a minority does affect how people see you sometimes. Even if it is just something little in the back of their minds.

There are times that I have me wondering if my ethnic backgrounds matter. That maybe we should all turn a blind eye to appearances and anything associated with it. In all fairness, we are all different from one another. But that is the exact reason why turning a blind eye is not the best way to approach things. No matter who we are, we have the little things about ourselves that make us different. Embrace the differences because they continually make you who you are. The question is if you show it or not.

I admit that sometimes I find myself feeling a little out of place, but that does not mean I do not belong here. I think I will be okay. And here are little things that can help you:

  1. Make friends. Those are the people that will keep you sane for the rest of the time. They are the people who are there when you need help.
  2. Join clubs (especially the ones that you feel like you will find your niche in)! There are clubs out there for you. It does not need to be the ones that represent your ethnicity, but also the things you are passionate about.
  3. Ignore stereotypes. And when I say that, I don’t mean go out of your way to avoid becoming what people want you to be. I hope you don’t find yourself under all that pressure to be someone else. And even if you fall under the stereotype, it is not a bad thing. This is your life, and you know what is best for you.

I decided a while ago that I cannot keep hiding myself behind stereotypes. That kind of acting can be super emotionally exhausting. However, I hope anyone who is in a similar place as me remembers that they are special for being who they are, not different. There’s a difference. You have a story to tell that sets you apart from everyone else. I hope you can accept your story from the obstacles to the little victories you have worked hard to achieve. Being a minority can be an advantage, but it depends on you.

Jena Lui

Susqu '23

To go on an adventure means to set off into a new environment and to take it all in, keeping what is important to you.
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