Kayla (18) was born and raised in Indonesia, her mother is Indonesian Sundanese and her father is Indonesian Padangnese. She came in 2019 to study International Relations and International Organizations at RUG in Groningen. Kayla identifies herself as Indonesian and Lesbian.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
Not really. I am quite lucky because my mom is pretty supportive and laid back when it comes to education. She lets me choose what I want to do in terms of education and professional career.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
I can’t discuss things related to relationships and my sexuality, as it is a taboo in most parts of Indonesia. Though I am quite open with my parents, sexuality is one of the things I hide from them and dealing with that, I kept my self closeted. It is more of a ‘dont ask, don’t tell’ kind of thing.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
Yes, I do feel close to my Asian roots and I am proud of it. It reminds me of who I am, especially now that I am living abroad.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
I don’t feel ashamed of it because it is a part of me and to be represented in the society, I have to embrace it.
Did you ever have a role model when you grew up?
I don’t think I have a role model that really impacts my life but I think having a role model is a great way to become inspired to achieve great things in life. I think what matters the most is the positivity that the role model brings, despite how they look.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
I would say being an Indonesian in The Netherlands is not as hard as being another Asian. People here know quite a lot about Indonesian culture (because of the Dutch colonialism in Indonesia) and it is well represented. Media representation of the Asian community should comprise a lot of different Asian cultures rather than just the culture that they are most familiar with.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
I feel like it is a good representation of the Asian community. However, due to this saying, a lot of Asian people in the west feel the pressure to conform to those expectations from the western community. I, myself, am very far from what is being described in the model but by breaking the stereotypes, we can raise the awareness of Asian diversity.
What made you who you are now?
The experiences that I’ve gone through in my life and life lessons that people taught me in the past.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
It happens quite a lot and I always inform them about the diversity in the Asian community
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
The most common Asian stereotypes would probably be the nerdy and smart Asian. It is true that a lot of Asian students are very diligent but not everyone fits into that category.
What stereotypes and comments have you heard about your appearance? Do you identify with that too? How do you see yourself compared to how others see you? What do you feel and how do you feel when people make such comments?
A lot of people usually comment on how I present myself as an Asian girl in masculine clothing and how it is very uncommon. I always try to explain how it is my way to express myself and it is what I’m most comfortable with.
What racist remarks and discrimination have you experienced? Have you experienced it before? Where, when, how? Which experience do you remember most? So has it gotten worse with the Coronavirus? What do you feel and how do you feel when people make such comments?
Fortunately, I don’t get a lot of racist remarks from people here in the Netherlands. But one experience that stood out the most was when I was with my Indonesian friends in a metro station in Antwerp, a random old guy came up to us and bluntly asked if we had the Coronavirus.
What is a funny trait or what is something that not everyone knows about you?
I am an Asian who doesn’t know how to properly use chopsticks
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?
This is a very common belief in the Asian community. However, a woman should be able to choose what they want to do in life and determine their own success, whether it is derived from marriage, career, etc.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
As an Asian living in Europe, I feel like more representation, especially in the media, should be made to show how diverse the Asian community is. It is important to show that we don’t fit into one narrow category. In the future, I want to be able to show people that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you look like as long as you stay true to yourself, you can be anything you want.
What do you want to give to the readers? What do you hope to achieve?
I hope that people in the west can understand more about the different Asian cultures and appreciate it more.
Where can we follow you?