Selena (20), born in Taiwan and raised in the Netherlands. Studies communication in The Hague, takes acting lessons in Amsterdam and has a great passion for dance.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
I am very lucky with my parents. They have always been there for me and gave me everything they could. I am happy with the life lessons I learned from them such as working hard for what you want, treating others the way you want to be treated and of course they have given me a lot of love. They support me in everything I do.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
No, and I am aware that this is very special. I can really talk about anything with my mom. My father is more of practical advice and for tackling difficult situations. A very nice combination.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
Not really. I am more looking for who I am and where I feel at home. I generally feel Dutch, but I do notice that I have a special bond with the culture of Taiwan. Still, in general I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I’m a bit between different things in terms of origin and where I belong, and I think that’s okay.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Yes, I grew up in a white village, went to a white high school. Especially when I was young, I certainly didn’t see being Asian as an advantage. This has changed over the years, I have gotten to know more people like me and have been inspired to be proud of who I am and where I come from.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
No, not a specific person, but I often admire people. From my sister to Michelle Obama, from my acting teacher to R.J. palace. I get inspiration from many people.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
Still far from where it should be. I notice that there is more attention for it in the media or in work environments (staff choices) but the stereotype about Asians still exists. I hope it becomes more obvious that there can be Asians in any environment. That an appearance or origin does not tell you where you belong or not, what you can or cannot do.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’? x
No, I don’t believe in stereotypes, which hinder people in their thinking and development. I believe in diversity and that you can be whatever and whoever you want as long as you feel comfortable with it
What made you who you are now?
The support of my parents, friends and sister and everything I’ve been through, good and bad, have contributed to who I am today.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
Yes, very often. I cried about it, I laughed it off, I ignored it. But how it always made me feel is ‘different’, an outsider. Sometimes it touches me more than other times
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
Stereotypes are formed, superficial ideas about certain (ethnic) population groups. Stereotypes are mainly due to the lack of representation and knowledge. People are afraid of the unknown, jump to conclusions just to have an opinion.
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?
Slit-eye, Chinese, Ni Hao, Corona. No, I no longer identify myself with that, I used to care more about it. I now just see myself as a me, not associated with my appearance specifically but that is largely because I am in an international environment. When people say things like that I feel different, an outsider, not accepted.
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?
Mainly the words and comments in my previous answer. I have experienced it as long as I lived in my hometown but unfortunately also abroad and abroad. It hasn’t gotten any worse with the virus. I feel like an outsider and not accepted when people make those kinds of comments.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
I’m a big fan of Marvel. I admire Black Widow
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 agree at all. No one should be forced to do something they don’t want to because it’s “normal” in a culture or society. Personally, I want to get the most out of my life before committing myself to someone and having to immediately take into account everything else.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
My pitfall has always been to plan too far ahead, set goals and not live in the moment. I focus on the now, try to make conscious choices about what makes me really happy and I trust that will bring me where I am/ belong.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I hope people realize that an ethnicity doesn’t immediately say everything about a person. That appearance is a packaging of a personality that can come as a big surprise. Give each other a chance and listen to each other, that gets the best out of everyone.
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