“Welcome home!” my friends Christine and Shirley said as they pulled me into a hug. I was caught off guard for a second and I wondered, is this home? It’s hard to say where home is for me since I’ve lived in many different cities in my lifetime and never quite felt at home. Plus, as a so-called 1.5 generation Korean (born in Korea but raised in the US), I have always been wondering where my home is.
This longing is one of the primary reasons I started researching the topic of Asian identity. Specifically, I’m curious about how growing up Asian in America affects behavior in professional environments. I won’t become a Nobel Laureate for this research but if I can gain knowledge and help other Asian Americans to understand who they are, then that’s more than enough of a reward.
I got to NYC about three weeks ago after leaving Seattle, Washington. We took a 48-day scenic route and meandered through 17 states. Once back in NY, I moved my entire apartment into Jay’s existing live/work art studio. In order to accommodate my stuff, we built shelves, cleaned, organized and ultimately set up our respective areas to create. As Jay continues to expand his art career, I will focus 100% of my energy on research and writing so I can finish my doctorate in organizational psychology.
Once I earn my PhD in org psych, my goal is to make a positive impact on women’s lives. As a result of the research, I hope to shed light on the experiences of Asian women. Those who grew up in a traditional, community-oriented Asian upbringing but later have to function (and excel) in professional environments where being assertive and individualistic is rewarded. I can’t wait to hear stories of Asian women and re-tell their narratives in a compelling and respectful manner.
Thinking back on my friends’ welcoming embrace…maybe I am home. I left NY in 2002. The reason I left was to pursue a master’s degree in organizational psychology in San Francisco. Once I completed the MA, I decided to go all the way; to become a specialist in a field I felt passionate about.
Now as I move toward the end of my PhD program, it feels as though I’m meant to be back in NY. I’m near friends, with Jay and our dogs. And Bambi is in storage, waiting for the next road trip.
FujiFilm Finepix X100 (view from the Williamsburg Bridge, NYC.)