Being the biggest continent in the world, Asia contains about 60% of the worlds population and growing each year. Though China, and India are two of the most populated countries in the world, having about 30% of the worlds population, there are about two-fifths of the countries that have less than five million habitants. Though forty-two different countries make up this great continent, much of the similarities are family values. Customs and traditions might be different, however, western ideas and influences have wiped out many of those customs and created new ones in most of the countries in Asia. Even in comparison from country to country, the new ways and ideas are similar. The basic Asian family would be the same as in any family in comparison to the rest of the world. Patriarchy families are more popular amongst many Asian families. It is believed that the man is in charge of the house in most if not all the countries in Asia. However, there is some form of equality between men and women in Asia. Some countries have more equal rights than others. Some countries such as the Middle East countries give very minimal rights to women. Even a great country like the United States doesnt have full equality between men and women. Because of urbanization, western ideas and influences are reaching the average Asians. Asians are moving into cities with phenomenal speed. In an article by Michael Sivy of Time International Magazine, Malaysias Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim states, Today, half of all Malaysians live in cities. Sivy adds, the result is an irreversible change in the family structure that has prevailed in Asia for thousands of years. The urbanization of these families helped to promote further growth in all aspects. It has converted the extended family into a nuclear one, says Richard Robison, director of the Asia Research Center at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. Because of this new change, people are relying less on the family, which in turn is creating new relationships between old and young and women and men. The change has promoted a lot of social change and economic change in many of these countries, such as Malaysia. By urbanization, many of these people are being influenced by the modernization and western technological advancements. These influences include democracy, education, communication, economical developments, medical advancements, employment, and individualism. Though individualism is present, family values are treasured. Unity is preserved and family name is heavily cherished. Asians strongly believe that problems must be kept within the family, and that problems are a blemish upon the family name as quoted by Lien Roberts, a Vietnamese mother. Immigration is also very popular amongst Asians. Many immigrate to democratic places such as the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. Many believe before they emigrate, that their new land will be much better than the one they currently occupy. Just in the Greater Toronto Area, there are about 380,000 Chinese-Canadians as reported by Tony Wong from The Toronto Star. As reported by Mr. Wong, China is the major source of immigration to Canada. However, China isnt the only place where immigration comes from. Place such as Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and even India, Mauritius, and Jamaica also has emigrants to Canada. Three point four percent of the entire population of the United States is Asian and each year, that number is getting greater and greater. Because the United States gives them a better opportunity for growth, much if the Asias immigration goes here. After battling racism for about a century, the Asian population in the United States is the fastest growing ethnic group in the country. Today, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing U.S. minority, increasing at fifteen times the rate of non-Hispanic whites, and doubling in just the past ten years. The growth is phenomenal. Sociologist James M. Henslin states that most of the population is concentrated in major cities such as, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. However, even though they are in a distant land, they often preserve their customs and traditions while also taking on things from the American Culture. In an article written by Julie Zhou, a Chinese immigrant who is currently a student explains that she is determined for herself that she would fit into American society while still displaying the positive influences of her culture. Things such as clothes, music and shopping didnt interest her as she explains in this article. Most importantly, she values the understanding of her parents that told her it was okay to be like that. Chinese culture recognizes that personal achievements outside the classroom is pursuits such as academic activities and community service lead to a well-balanced life. Qualities such as honesty and good judgment contribute to a peaceful life. Important aspects such as social involvement and willingness to make sacrifices contribute greatly to success. Balance, peace and success are the very foundation stones on which we lay our culture, is what Miss Zhou believes in. Many Chinese people if not all, also believe in this philosophy. The opportunity that lies in the United States is so much greater than that of countries such as China. With Communism in China and a recession in Japan, immigration one way Asians can escape and come to a place such as the United States to expand. In an article written by Karen Ma in Time International Magazine, she tells a story of an immigrant of Hong Kong named Eric Tsang that came to the United States seven years ago, with nothing but $3,000 in his savings account and a sister here that gave him a place to live. He worked as a busboy in a New York City Chinatown restauranteleven hours a day, six days a week, and cleared plates, emptying the garbage and scrubbing toilets. However, today, he not only owns part pf that restaurant, but is planning a second. He and his wifeown their home and are already preparing their two young childrenfor college. By working hard and saving, Eric became very successful. The American dream became reality for this immigrant. Most immigrants from Asia tend to show similar characteristics as Eric. They all work hard, and conserve their money, hoping one day to own a house and run a business, giving them extra money to send their children to college and helping them live an easier life than themselves. In an interview with my father Kwok Kwong Lee, he explains the similarities between him and Eric. He first talks about his childhood in China. He didnt have much food to eat, and never had a full meal when he was a kid. In order to have a better life, him and several of his friends got together and decided to smuggle into Hong Kong, then a British Colony. They practiced everyday for months. The swim he tells me was 7 hours long. It was really tiring after 6th hour, but we saw how close we were and was determined to get to land, he explains. After a year in Hong Kong, he immigrated to the United States in 1973. His aunt and uncle lived here, so he lived with them. He worked in his uncles restaurant until the restaurant closed down. He made $600 a month, but since he didnt really have any expenses, he just saved it up. He went back to Hong Kong to marry my mother and filed an application for her immigration to the United States. He had a partnership in a restaurant for several years before selling his share of the company. After that, he worked at the Silver Palace restaurant in Chinatown for a couple of years. My father bought the house were living in now in 1987, but decided to rent it out to have it bring in more money. This was a 3-family house in Sheepshead Bay, so the price was high. However, this was a great neighborhood and my parents didnt want my sister and I to grow up in Chinatown, so he bought it for $325,000. About 8 years ago, my father opened up a fish market in Chinatown. He works from 4 A.M. to 7 P.M., 6 days a week. However, he doesnt complain at all. Two years ago, he bought a brand new Nissan Maxima. My father worked very hard through all these years in the United States, but he never complained. He wanted to make sure that his family didnt have to suffer what he suffered when he was in China. He made sure we had a place to live in, clothes to wear, and food to eat. This is the same in all Chinese families. Most immigrants suffered too much in their own countries, not only China. No matter how hard they work here, it is still easier than working in their own country. Asians own many stores and delis today. Many Koreans own grocery stores and delis. Another group of Asians that own grocery stores are Arabs. Not just only grocery stores and delis, but many newsstands as well. Chinese people also own many grocery stores, and many take out restaurants. In any neighborhood in New York City, one will always find at least one store owned by Asians. Asian Americans, the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S., are an industrious, highly educated and successful immigrant community. Their members become brilliant engineers, capable physicians, and instinctive entrepreneurs. Moreover, they rarely depend on public welfare because of the strength of their Confucian ethic is stereotype that is accepted widely. However, in a report made by the Asian American Studies Center, part of the University of California, Los Angeles, shows a startling gap between rich and poor members of the Asian-American community. It also shows that the Southeast Asians are at the bottom of the economic ladder, and that 30% of all Southeast Asian familiesare on welfare the highest rate of any ethnic group. It clearly shows that Asian Americans are not all powerful and do experience problems as any other group does, proving the stereotype to be false. The reports also show that: In 1989, nearly 15% of Southeast Asian Americans lived below the poverty line of $12,674, a rate 1 times greater than that for whites. For every Asian household with an annual income of $75,000, there is another with an income below $10,000. Even though this is the case, Asian Americans still occupy only a tiny portion of the welfare rolls. They make up just 2% of the 13.6 million who receive the governments Aid to Families with Dependent Children. However, they do somewhat live up to the idea because: immigrants from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Korea make up 11% of all physicians and 7% of all scientists and engineers in the U.S., though they account for less than 3% of the population. They help raise the median family income for all Asian Americans to $35,000, the highest of any groupToday, there are 7.2 million Asian Americans enjoying widely differing amounts of success. By the year 2020, the number will be 20 million, and the differences and distinctions will be all the greater. Education and other family values are expressed and taught in many Asian cultures, especially within the United States. As Eric is planning to send his young children to college, many Asian parents work hard so they can send their children to college. The result is the booming of professionals within the country from just one ethnic group. Finding a better life for their children is a common desire among immigrants. Only 3% of the population will get into a university in China: a tinier fraction will be admitted to elite universities, therefore, many immigrate to the United States to give their children a chance to attend college studies. Amongst other values taught at home, family unity and respect is another virtue that is important. Asian Americans overall have the lowest divorce rate (3%) and the lowest teenage pregnancy (6%) of any group. They are taught to always work out their differences for divorce is a disgrace to the family name. My father tells me that when he went to school in China, you needed three elements to be considered a good student: high grades, physically athletic, and show high respect to everyone. He continues to explain that if a student was missing one of those qualities, then that student wasnt considered a good student. Trust, love and respect for our family and our elders; integrity, honesty, and loyalty to all; commitment to education; a belief in order and stability; a preference for consultation rather than confrontation; a preference for obligation rather than individual rights are some of the things listed by Tung Chee-hwa, a chief executive in a Hong Kong corporation as that he considers Asian values.” He then talks about what he felt were North American values. He described them as freedom of expression; personal freedom; self-reliance; individual rights; hard work; personal achievement; thinking for ones self. Another thing taught at home is money and how to manage it. Dr. Chen Chin-kuai states that: Money is the third most important thing in life. The first is health and the second is happiness. If you dont have those, what good is money? which is believed to be true by many Asians. Michael Sivy then describes what is considered a successful Asian is like of Dr. Chens generation. The majority are in business or have professional jobs. Most own a car, a computer, a CD player and an expensive watch. Among the things they like to buy are fountain pens, fine leather goods and imported beer and wine More than half see movies regularly and many go to the theatre and concerts. However, their top priorities are buying a comfortable home, being able to afford a first rate education for their children and ensuring a prosperous old age. Thats the idea of most Asians today. The Chens expect no pensions when they retire. They figure they will have to rely on their own savings. Their way of making money would be to work hard, save half and put the rest in the stock market as described by Sivy. Many Asians learn to save money very well. It is not surprising that Asia may have the highest savings rates in the world upwards of 15% of household income. But young people everywhere have to work extra hard to put aside money beyond what they need for current living expenses. Sakchye and Kissinee Laohavirojana, both 39 of Bangkok, met in high school and married in 1982. But even before their wedding, they were planning. They decided to save for their own house first and after that, if they had children, they would set up another plan for them. While some Asians work hard and save half their money while investing the other half in the stock market, others build their wealth by investing through family businesses. Many Asians do not believe in the stock market. They would rather take a risk by investing in their own businesses than put money into the stock markets reasoned Denis Hooi of Kuala Lumpur, a business owner. He and his wife both have their own firms and share an office space with a staff of three described Sivy. They bought an office for their businesses, which cost them about $72,000already, the value of their new office has appreciated about 30% to more than $92,000. However, some choose to invest in foreign-currency investing like Thomas Lin and wife Carol from Hong Kong. They both struggle hard to save and plan on owning their own business in the future. He also wants to have enough money to start his own family as Sivy describes. With such ambitious goals, the Lins have to try and squeeze every last bit of return out of the money they save. But they are also cautious. Their solution: to put money into foreign currency accounts. They felt that the Hong Kong dollar rate was low, so they though why not save in foreign currencies? explains Thomas. Even though most of these values are good values taught in families, there are some that arent so good. Not all customs are traditions are accepted by the new generation. In an article written by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, she describes the tragic story of Rhena. Her Pakistanian parents Sekina Khan and Mohammed Bashir were jailed trying to kidnap her to Pakistan. Even though they immigrated to Great Britain, they still believed in the traditional ways of arranged marriage. When they found out that she was not willing to go with them, they spiked her drinkand attempted to smuggle her away to Pakistan. Over two hundred cases of British girls are kidnapped and taken over to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh states Brown. They are forced to marry those they do not want to marry. Some of these girls often protest. Some so extreme that one victim reportedly cut her arms to shreds in protest against a marriage in Bangladesh. Brown argues that Sekina and Mohammed love their children. She argues that they believed that the children would appreciate this and not be seduced by the ways of the West and that they would all carry on happy ever after as it they had never left that spot in the sub-continent which is still home in their hearts. Some values like the one mentioned before arent changed. It probably wont change for a long time. Another value that doesnt change is religion. While technology and science has greatly weakened the in-depth belief in religion, religion is still remains strong in the basic Asian family. Even though there are only 42 countries in Asia, there are hundreds of different kinds of religions located on this continent. However, 3 main religions remain to be the largest in Asia: Hinduism, which is basically located in India; Islam, which is located in the Middle East countries; Buddhism, which is located in most of China, Japan, some of South Korea (Christianity takes up the other major religion in South Korea), all of the Southeast countries (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand). Western influences such as science, technology, and investments are some of the things that Asians have encountered that changed their lives. Instead of being stuck on traditional values and customs, many have taken a step forward and modernized and given themselves and their family a chance for growth. The idea of immigrating to a better place such as the United States and Canada has changed the world, especially Asia. Growth, prosperity, and for the welfare of the next generation has made millions of Asians leave their homeland to come here. However, not all their values are lost. Family unity, respect, honor, education, money, and pursuit of happiness are preserved in many of the Asian families. Combined with the western ideas and influences, Asian Americans have prospered into the fastest growing successful ethnic group in the country. This is all thanks to those that have left their country and sacrificed for their children. Working harder than slaves with lowest possible wages to make sure their children wont have to go through what they have.
Bibliography. Brown, Yasmin Alibhai; A hard lesson for the Asian community to learn., Independent; June 8, 1998 pp13 Cao Lan, and Novas Himilce; Everything You Need To Know About Asian American History; Penguin Group; USA; 1996 Henslin, James M.; Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach; 4th Edition; Allyn and Bacon; Massachusetts; 1999 Housewright, Ed; A Shoulder to Lean On: Mothers outreach helps areas Asian families deal with mental retardation., The Dallas Morning News, Feburary 15th, 1999, pp 23A Lee, Raymond; Interview with Father, Kwok Kwong Lee; November 10, 1999 Ma, Karen; Time Money on Familys Finances: A Family Tree Gorws in Brooklyn: An Ambitious Young Restaurateur Heads a Hong Kong Family, 30 Strong, That is Replanting Itself in New York City Soil.., Time International, December 1, 1997; pp 20+ Mirsky, Jonathan; Asian values, a fabulous notion.. Vol. 127, New Statesman (1996), April 3, 1998; pp 26(2) Rudolph, Barbara; Reported by Blackman, Ann; Immigrants: The Stereotype is Accepted Almost without a question: Asian.; Time International; May 30, 1994, pp 31 Sivy, Michael; with reporting by Daneels; Jenny; Goplan, Nisha; Shapiro, Don; Cover Story: How To Get The Good Life For Young Asians Are Taking Control of Their Financial Lives Like Never Before. Time; 1997 Wong, Tony; Chinese family knew it wouldnt be easy; The Toronto Star, May 11, 1999 Zhou, Julie; For the Journal-Constitution, Enjoying the best of two cultures.; The Atlanta Constitution; July 19, 1999 ppA7
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