Dear AAPAAN

My family discourages me from having so many Asian friends. However, since coming to college I am basically only friends with Asians. Is this a bad thing? But also, how can I put myself into other communities?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous

I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  My phrase for this is “You do you” (*with a caveat).  Parents, elders, and friends love to give advice, and we should listen to try to understand their wisdom and learn from their mistakes.  But, we also need to live our own lives and be comfortable in our own skin.  If you enjoy being involved in Asian/Asian Pacific groups (APA) or having Asian friends because you enjoy their company and cultural connections, then you should continue to do that.

But, “everything in moderation”.  You don’t want to exclude meeting people because having a diverse group of friends and experiences will make you a richer person.  You’ll understand different cultures and backgrounds, and just generally be a better human being.  It would be probably be helpful to join different groups (could be cultural, related to an academic club, community service, or related to you your hobbies) and learn to interact with other people.  College offers so many activities and opportunities to meet people, go out there and set a goal (i.e. try 1 new event a week), and within a few months, I’m sure you’ll have developed some new relationships.

Being able to interact and deal with different types of people will also benefit you in your career.  In your job, you aren’t going to be working only with Asians.  In fact, that scenario is extremely unlikely in the US.  In addition, you don’t want people to think you only “hang out” or “talk” with Asians – you want to be known as broad-based and able to work with diverse types of people and personalities.  

Quite often, what we think of as facts are really just a single perspective on what is happening.  Having diverse friends will help you gain insights on other perspectives on the same happening.  Learning the skill to look at issues from totally different perspective will put you ahead on the career curve where personal skills may ultimately be more important than technical skills.

Om

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