May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. At AEO, we are taking this time to reflect on the significance of the AAPI community as we seek to amplify their voices, stories and contributions.
Nicole S. is a Graphic Designer for the AE Marketing Print Create team. The second youngest of five siblings, Nicole’s mother is of Korean descent and her father is primarily of German descent. To honor AAPI Heritage Month and her culture, Nicole graciously shared her story.
While I am half Asian, I feel I’ve always identified more closely with my Korean side; not only because of how strongly those features show in my appearance but also because I grew up deeply fascinated by Asian culture. I think this partly stems from growing up with a mother who, while born in Korea, was adopted by caucasian parents and grew up in the U.S. In other words, while my siblings and I all look very Korean, our understanding of Korean culture was limited to what my mother learned in her own journey of self-identity. She never met her birth parents, so there has always been this bit of mystery surrounding that part of our heritage.
With that in mind, I often feel like my story is a funny blend of things Asian Americans can identify with and things white Americans can identify with. Music, entertainment and food was always a mix of Korean and American influence. Watching Marvel movies with the family was intermixed with K-dramas and anime. Our parties would often be a spread of BBQ chicken wings, Italian bread, dumplings and rice noodles. And I know all the words to the top Britney Spears and Girls Generation (my favorite k-pop group as a kid!) songs.
My favorite part of Korean culture, though, has to be the fashion and the food. My mother’s homemade dumplings are the highlight at big family and friend gatherings. And I’m always curious about the latest trends in Korean beauty.
What I’ve learned through my experience is that growing up biracial is a constant journey of learning and shaping your identity. As society shifts to being more accepting of Asian culture (watching anime was certainly not a “cool” thing growing up and yet today it seems quite the opposite!), so does access to learning more about that part of myself. I’ve grown to really love how unique and rich my background is as an Asian-German-American blend. And no matter what I look like, I’m proud to call myself an American and live in a country where you can meet people from all sorts of different cultures and experiences.