Ger-Anne (22) was born and raised in The Netherlands, her mother is South-Korean and her dad is Dutch. She studies Medicine and identifies herself more Dutch than Korean.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
Yes, my mother always taught me to study hard and make the most of it. She encouraged me to do gymnasium and go to university to study medicine. She always wanted the best of me.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
No, there aren’t things I can’t discuss with my mother
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
No, I don’t feel close to my Asian roots. That’s because I grew up in the Netherlands and I can’t speak Korean. I have visited Korea two times in my life, to explore the country and meet my family. I like the country and culture and when I’m in Korea it feels very good. But when I’m home in the Netherlands, I don’t stay in contact with my family and aren’t busy with keeping up my Asian roots.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Mostly not, but when I was in second grade, for a little time I was called names like: ‘Hey you Chinese’ ‘Can I have some Babi Pangang’ ‘Nice lice (instead of rice)’. And people pulled their eyelids aside so it looked like slit eyes. That was a time when I hated to have Asian looks. But besides that, I never feel ashamed or uncomfortable being an Asian.
Did you ever have a role model when you grew up?
Actually, I don’t have a role model. I think it’s not important to have that. You have to do your own thing and don’t have to look up or imitate a role model.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
Asian representation in the West is really bad I think. There’s a lot of stereotyping, especially that all Asians are Chinese people. I think that in the west too many people know nothing or a little about Asians and their culture. I think it’s good to make people aware of Asians and Asian cultures so that there will be less bullying and stereotyping. I don’t know how to reach that goal, I haven’t done anything about it up to now, but projects like this are very good examples!
What do you think of ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
I think that’s really nonsense. Asian people are not different from people in the West; there are so many differences between Asian people, because every person is unique in their own way, even so in people from the West for example. I’m not smart, I’m bad at math, I’m not quiet and I need help from other people, so the ideal model is in my opinion nonsense.
What made you who you are now?
My friends and my mom, they always supported me, made jokes of me being an Asian and accepted me for who I am.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese?
Yes, but for a short time, only in second grade for a few weeks. I ignored the comments and tried to stay positive. My friends supported and stood by me, that also helped me going through that time.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
The biggest stereotyping is that people think that all Asians are Chinese. I can see so many differences, every Asian is unique, looks different and has different cultures. It’s the same to say that all Dutch, German and Belgium people are the same. If you ask those persons, they will say that they are very different. That is the same of Asian people.
What stereotypes and comments have you heard about your appearance?
I often hear that I’m Chinese (because of the stereotyping), but I see so many differences. My eyes do not look like Chinese eyes and Korean people look different than Chinese people. It is tiring to always explain that I’m not Chinese but Korean and to tell the differences.
Do you know any South Korean stereotypes, and do you identify yourself with that?
I don’t really know a lot of Korean stereotypes, only studying very hard and that’s something I got from my mother. I reach for that as well. Also, taking care of your parents and if you were spoiled as a kid that you take care of them when they’re older as a “thank you”. But I don’t identify myself with that.
What racist remarks and discrimination have you experienced?
(see answers before). I didn’t experience worse comments with the Coronavirus. I feel very sorry for every Asian who experienced comments about Asians and Coronavirus. I think people shouldn’t make comments and I find it very pathetic if people do. This is in my opinion discrimination.
What is a funny trait or what is something that not everyone knows about you?
I’m half Asian and everyone expects me to be able to handle spicy food, and I want that badly because it’s amazing and you seem tough if you can handle spicy food, but on the contrary I really can not handle spiciness. So a lot of Asian food I can not eat because it’s too spicy for me. My mother, brother and sister can handle spicy food very well, only I can not handle it. I’m not a real Asian 😉
In Asian culture, it is normal as a woman to get married as soon as possible, have children, and become a housewife. Because when you have a husband, you have children, you have “made” it in life. How do you see it?
I don’t see it as a ‘must’. Also, my mother doesn’t see it that way. I want to get married and have children, but not in a hurry and not as a ‘must’. I don’t think people should see it that way. You have to do what you want, and not what people expect for you. Don’t do things in a hurry or as a must, but do it in your time.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
At the moment I’m studying medicine and I want to become a doctor. I have to study for 3 more years and I have to specialize afterwards. In what specialty I don’t know yet, but Emergency Room has my interest.
Where can we follow you?