What does it mean to be American? To be Filipino? These are questions that I’ve been struggling with for a while now.
[Visited home this past summer, and this was one of the last things I did. I love to look at it sometimes to remind me of home.]
I come from an incredibly diverse community that is the island Guam. A community where it’s hard to say that you’re “this” or you’re “that”. Everything is interconnected in ways that are hard to comprehend at times. The melting pot of identities and cultures are the center of my story.
[A little glimpse of Guam]
I attended a private christian school for most of life. It was a school where the majority of the faculty and staff were from the mainland. In addition to that, a lot of classmates came from different backgrounds. My school was really good at accepting all kinds of cultures and creating a safe environment for all its students. However, there was one instance where I felt completely embarrassed. One day, I brought some adobo to school, and one of my classmates made a comment about my delicious home-lunch.
“Why does it look like that? It looks gross.”
This comment bothered me the rest of the school year, and in some ways, beyond that. I never brought another home-made lunch again for fear of being teased. I completely shunned that aspect of my culture in order to fit in better with my peers, and for awhile, it seemed to work, for the most part.
Now I’m at UW as a freshman. It was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t even have family here, and the closest family member was all the way in California! For all intents and purposes, I was alone in a new state. I longed for something familiar. That’s when I found FASA. The first thing I noticed about FASA was how inviting the officers were. They were friendly and enjoyable to talk to, and on top of all that, when they did talk to me, they seemed incredibly genuine. They cared. After leaving that first general meeting, I couldn’t wait for the next.
[FASA’s 1st general meeting, Fall 2016, Spoken Word]
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend any of the meetings during fall quarter due to my schedule, but I attended many of the winter ones. With every meeting, I learned something new. Whether it was the different corners or the many workshops and speakers, I left every FASA meeting with new knowledge of my culture and, in turn, myself. I began to have this feeling of involvement and investment.
I began to break out of the shell of my shame of being Filipino. I learned to embrace this part of me, and once I learned to do that, everything, more or less, fell into place. I was happy and comfortable with my newfound friends at FASA, and I started to take part in events that, a year ago, I never saw myself in. It’s amazing how much can change in a span of year; all you need encouraging, genuine friends and a common interest. In my case, the common love of Filipino culture was the factor that bound us together.
I want to encourage to all those reading this to dive in. Don’t be afraid to just jump into the craziness that is FASA. This wonderful organization helped break free of my political and cultural ignorance, and I am better person because of it. It is my sincerest belief that ignorance is a major chain that the world needs to break in order to be a better place.
In order to break that chain, you start with cracks. Each educated person is a crack in that chain.
Be a crack.
Find out more about Kent and his position here!
What’s your FASA story? #alpas