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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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My Experience Being Asian

Azaa Battsogt
The silhouette is meant to represent me wearing my traditional clothing and my background being Mongolian.

I am Mongolian. I celebrate Lunar New Year’s. In my country and language, we call it цагаан сар (tsagaan sar) meaning white moon. Mongolians wear traditional clothing called дээл (deel), travel to friends and family’s houses, and have grand dinners with presents and money. It is pretty similar to Thanksgiving, but Mongolian, and with a few other traditions.

 I love tsagaan sar, it is one of my favorite times of the year because it is a chance to be in touch with my Mongolian heritage. I was born and raised in the U.S. and have never been to Mongolia so I fall into the Asian-American “stereotype.” The stereotype is that living and growing up in a predominantly white area ultimately Americanizes us and almost takes away our roots.  But celebrating this holiday with my family and elders gives me a chance to brush up on my Mongolian speaking skills, and dress in my deel, and just makes me feel happy and better about being an Asian American. 

One of the problems of being an Asian living in the U.S. is the lack of representation and acknowledgment. For the first ten years of my school life, I was the only Mongolian in my school. I am not talking about my classes or my grades, I am talking about my entire school. Out of all the students I was the only Mongolian.

I would go through the yearbook at the end of each year, flipping through the pages, trying to find at least one person with a Mongolian last name. I looked around my classes and thought “Wow, I’m the only person with yellow skin.” 

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These problems fade away when I celebrate the Lunar New Year, I see Asian representation. I see people with similar names to mine. I see people who share my skin, my experiences, my problems. The reason why this holiday means so much to me, is because it makes me feel like I belong.

Another problem with being an Asian-American is having people immediately assume I am Korean, Chinese, or Japanese. I have experienced peers calling me Chinese as an insult. I have heard people assume I am a terrible driver simply because I am an Asian woman. I’ve had neighbors who have never talked to me or my family say racist things or act simply on thoughts and stereotypes of my family. 

Xenophobia is real. And I’ve experienced it. So many people have experienced it. But representation and simple appreciation can help. It won’t go away completely, but celebrating different cultures and bringing awareness can connect people instead of saying disrespectful slurs. 

Celebrating Lunar New Year and bringing awareness to cultures can broaden diversity and acceptance. It shows people who feel different from others that there is a community for them. That is why I think it’s important to speak out and bring awareness. That is why I love tsagaan sar.

This story was originally published on Metea Media on February 9, 2024.