asian immigrants

Asian Immigrants



transform generation raising the bar
minority proportion outperform
peer expectation Caucasian (2)
ancestor injection descendant
reflect heritage constrain
share boom entrepreneur
sponsor platform (2) generation
mood confident reserve (3)
echelon apparent badminton
diligent equation conflict
eager evident background
chorus disappoint cosmopolitan
situation conquer horizon


Video: Asian Immigrants



Hello, welcome to Global 3000. Today we’ll be talking about immigrant communities in the United States. We’ll be seeing how second, third or even fifth generation immigrants are transforming American society.

Here’s what’s coming up: raising the bar: how Asian Americans are driving academia.

The United States of America is a society defined by immigrants. In recent years, Asian Americans have become the fastest growing ethnic minority in the US.

As the proportion of Hispanics declined, more than a third of the immigrants to the States are from Asia.

Both these recent arrivals and Chinese Americans whose ancestors helped built the railways have one thing in common: they usually outperform their Caucasian-American peers in school and university.

A recent study argues that this is partly down to cultural expectations: in Asian communities, talent is often seen as a result of hard work rather than a gift.

Here’s a look at how an injection of Asian values is shaping America.

It smells like Beijing, tastes like Shanghai, and sounds like Hong Kong. But this is the US. San Francisco’s Chinatown reflects Asia’s influence on America.

The first Chinese immigrants came to the New World as laborers in the 19th century.

Their descendants celebrate their heritage with a tai chi demonstration at the Asia Festival.

Anson Liang and Angela Pang emigrated from Singapore five years ago. The couple felt constrained there.

Anson Liang, Trustleaf Founder: “It’s my dream. So I came to Silicon Valley to do my start-up. And I think it’s the place for me to develop my business and my career.

People here are more open, more used to exchanging ideas, sharing your dreams, sharing your resources with each other.”

The drive to succeed among young Asian Americans is a major factor in San Francisco’s booming economy.

For Anson and Angela, it’s all about moving up. They want to make it on this side of the Pacific.

Like many other Asian immigrants, they combine conservative values with a real ability to adapt.

They enjoy America’s creative freedom, but still value their own traditions.

Anson is aiming for the top. His new company uses space in a shared office for young entrepreneurs sponsored by established Silicon Valley firms.

Anson’s business idea is an online lending platform for family and friends. His target group is young entrepreneurs like himself.

But Anson has learned from his business partner, Daniel Lieser, that Asian reserve won’t get him very far here.

Anson: “I definitely want to be the person because the stereotype on Asian people is that we seem to be more conservative. People like to protect their idea instead of sharing it with their friends and family or their coworkers.”

Learning to negotiate unfamiliar freedoms in the US while maintaining their traditions is a balancing act. And one San Francisco’s Asian community manages well.

The mood here in the Asian festival is confident. A third of the population here have Asian roots.

Many immigrants and their children have worked their way up to middle and upper echelons of American society.

Life on the cosmopolitan Pacific coast has changed many Asians. But they have also changed America.

Gym class in the Mission San Jose High School in Silicon Valley. Here the growing Asian influence is particularly apparent.

The school gets better table tennis and badminton results than it does in American football.

When Principal Zach Larsen attended this school, nearly all of his classmates were Caucasian. Today, nearly 90% of the 2,200 students are Asian.

He explains how the academic climate has changed.

Zach Larsen: “I’ve heard kids jokes about the B is an Asian F, and that sort of things. But overall, the kids work hard and they do very, very well. Our school’s GPA is quite high — up in the upper 3s and the kids work hard and it shows.”

Whether solving equations or learning languages, they’re diligent and eager to learn.

But the competition among students and the high expectations of Asian parents is also evident: they want their children to be the best of the best.

Conflict among the students is rare; ambition is the norm.

And to cope with all the pressure, they’ve set up self-help groups. Because Asian students have a real fear of failure.

Nina Krishnan, Student: “I have a few friends who are of Caucasian background. And their expectations lie in sports and athletics. They really drive themselves so hard in sports.

Whereas me and my background, my parents are immigrants from India. Their expectations for me are to excel in academics before anything else.”

Student: “I know me, personally if I don’t study for a test, and if I fail the test, I disappoint my parents. That puts stress on me to do.”

But the only ones to make it in Silicon Valley are people determined to succeed. And those who can pitch their ideas well.

Microsoft invited five hundred start ups to present their business models.

Anson Leong and his partner Daniel Lieser are among those competing for this major investors’ money.

The quiet entrepreneur from Singapore is feeling energized.

Anson: “We definitely feel very excited at this event. On the showcase is one of the most prominent in the Bay Area. We are very happy and excited about being one of the finalists in winning the competition in this event.

Today they’re loud and clear: the Asian’s voice in America’s cosmopolitan chorus.

Along with newcomers like Anson, well-educated descendants of earlier immigrants are climbing the career ladder.

Journalist Noella Chun has a good job at Motorola. She was born in San Francisco. And feels 100% American.

Noella: “Some of my friends joke that, I’ve been here for five generations, that I’m fifth generation Chinese, that I’m practically just American now.

But I feel that’s simplifying too much. I still feel a strong connection to my Chinese background even though I’m five generations in. At the same time I don’t claim to know the situation of a real Chinese citizen in China either.”

Chinatown may symbolize the unskilled labor of a bygone era, but the well-educated generation of Asians in America are conquering new horizons.


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1. Which group is growing faster in the US, Hispanics (Latinos) or Asians?

2. Why did Anson emigrate to San Fransisco? How does he compare Singapore and the United States?

3. “They combine conservative values with a real ability to adapt.” What does this mean? Give examples of this.

4. The Mission San Jose High School has changed over the years. True or false? How has it changed?

5. Describe the goals and expectations of Asian American students and their parents.

6. What is Anson’s short term goal? What is he trying to achieve?

7. How does Noella Chun feel? Does she feel complete American, Chinese or both or in-between?
A. Are you a migrant? If yes, what is your story?

B. Do you know any migrants? What is their story?

C. Do you feel like emigrating? Do you want to emigrate somewhere? Where and why would you like to emigrate?

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