Tandoori Pizza and Sushi Burgers- a Surprise
Before Connecting Across Cultures advertised their “Tandoori Pizza and Sushi Burger” event for APIHM (Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month), I had always wanted to go ever since a member of UAASO (Diana) told me about it. She explained that Connecting Across Cultures was a weekly meet-up and discussion session for students from all backgrounds, including the international students. I was intrigued and definitely wanted to go sometime.
Thus, since they were having an event on April 5th for APIHM, what better opporunity did I have than that day? In addition, I really wanted to try out a “tandoori pizza” and “sushi burger”. So, with permission from our UAASO President, a few of the members and I went to visit.
It was quite interesting. We started off by discussing initial assumptions one may make based on apperance and phenotype. In lieu of traditional introductions, we played a game of guessing each other’s nationalities/ethnicities.
One of the stories mentioned by the facilitator of the group (an on-campus psychologist who is quite a free spirit!) that intrigued me was the story of her friend, a 4th or 5th generation American of Japanese descent from California. When people would ask her “Where are you from?” she would respond “America.” Then she would get the “where are you from from?” and “where are you really from?” questions. Since she has an Asian phenotype, people expect (or in this case, desperately want) her to say “I’m from Japan.” The implications behind this whole situation is, what does it mean to be American then? If you can’t accept “American” as the identity of an American who looks Asian, then what is an American supposed to look like for people to be satisfied with “American” as the answer?
Turns out the reason she would not identify as Asian American or Japanese American is because she, her parents, her grand parents, and her great grandparents all were born and grew up in California. She never went to Japan and she does not speak Japanese. She said that to identify herself as Japanese-American would be inauthentic. Would a 4th/5th generation Japanese American still be considered Japanese American? I would say so, but she does not think so. In the end, there’s the way people see you and the way you see yourself; these two identities do not always have to agree.
We also discused how over time, how we identify ourselves can evolve or change. For example, the facilitator’s identity went from Indian, to Asian, to South Asian, to Asian American, to Indian American.
In the end, it turns out the “tandoori pizza and sushi burgers” were not an invitation to come eat food- it was actually a title symbolilzing bi-culturalism. But while our stomachs may have been disappointed from the lack of this food mix, our minds were stimulated by the conversation. We met very interesting young women from various nationalities and identities and we had a great time sharing some of our personal experiences involving identity.
Connecting Across Cultures welcomes people of all backgrounds to meet new people and share with others. Whether you’re a regular, an occasional, or a one time visitor, I recommend attending! They meet every Thursday from 3 to 4 at the Drop-In Center.
Ashley, Culture Chair