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hapa317Hi! My name is Koby Song-Nichols and I am half Chinese and half white. I was born and raised in Arizona.

I’m 18 years old and a first year student at McGill University in Montreal. Being Hapa has been both a blessing and curse for me. 

My mom is ethnically Chinese and my dad is ethnically European; but because they were born in the U.S. I feel like I received a uniquely American upbringing. I was never able to connect to either of my ethnicities.

Being Hapa has always been an integral part of my identity but at moments I wish I would I was more solidly of one race. As I got older I met kids who could speak Chinese fluently and acted “Chinese-y” — that’s when my view on my race became a lot more polarized. When I was with people who were not Chinese I instantly became “super Asian,” while when I was with Chinese people I would be considered almost unbearably white.

This polarization pressured me to become “more Asian” so I began taking Mandarin Chinese and trying to “embrace my Chinese culture” more. But sometimes I still feel like I’m trying to fit into a culture that will never be mine 1) because I am half, and 2) because even my Chinese side isn’t that Chinese-y. This pressure has also forced me to wonder why I haven’t put much effort into trying to be “European.”

I hope in the future though I can feel more comfortable with my race and return to the peace/freedom it gave me when I was younger. I hope I can figure out what it means to me to be Hapa beyond just looking slightly Asian or white and how to deal with the pressure to connect to both my cultures.

For now I guess I can settle for trying to be happy in the middle with my not particularly “ethnically-cultured” American roots, which I guess might define me more than my actual Chinese and European roots.

2 thoughts on “Chinese, American

  1. Hang in there. As you get older, you will start getting to know yourself more and find your own place. You will find people who you will consider true friends regardless of your race. I am full Chinese but never really fit in any Chinese “groups” as you are more Americanized.

  2. Hey Koby!!

    I’m also Chinese-white, and I also attend McGill. That’s really awesome :) It’s interesting though, because I think I’ve embraced my white roots more than my Chinese roots. Do you speak mandarin fluently? I was never taught Cantonese and I wish I had been. But I totally know what you mean when you say that each side is polarized. It’s like you’re either white or Asian, but it’s hard to be both because a lot of people don’t get that.

    This is my story here:
    https://hapavoice.com/2013/08/08/chinese-norwegian-swiss-english-scottish/

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