As Immigrant Heritage Month recently came to a close, I found myself reflecting on my life after being in the United States for over 20 years. While the term “American” is one associated with a sense of pride for many, the word “immigrant” can have a negative connotation. But why?
As a Filipina and Chinese woman, I’ve been questioned about my ethnicity ever since I came to America at the young age of five, and I’ve always been open to educating people. While kids passed around cupcakes at school for their birthdays, I loved when my mom gifted my classmates mamón for my own celebrations. Even when I became a teenager, I always encouraged my friends to try the different snacks my parents picked up at the Asian grocery store and urged them to explore other parts of the world with their taste buds. After all, the more we teach others, the more open and understanding they become. And what better time to do that than in my earlier years?
Heading into college, and throughout the early years of my career, it became apparent that larger institutions and businesses wanted to define me by my ethnicity as they required me to check boxes to apply for schools and jobs. As proud as I was of my background, it never made sense to me why this was required. In social, academic, and professional settings, oftentimes the second or third question I was asked was, “What are you?” or “Where are you from?”
As I began interviewing for jobs, I was reminded that public relations was incredibly lacking in diversity. It seemed that many people came from the same types of schools, had the same connections, and largely shared the same shades of skin color. I realized that I was different. Although I was grateful to have been mentored by smart and quick-witted professionals, I could always count the number of “diverse” people in a room with one hand.
While some may view being an immigrant as a disadvantage, I’m proud to say that it’s given me a whole new perspective, especially as a PR professional. Given my background, I’m able to understand, translate, and pitch stories in a completely different light. By being born in another country, I’m also able to bring experiences from other places. Without trying to sound biased, I’ve also learned to hustle a bit differently and outpace some with my work ethic. I’m not saying that being an immigrant makes you the best, it just means that we’ve experienced different things in life and can apply that knowledge in new ways.
Regardless of others’ views, I’ve always believed that my ethnicity is a part of me, but not all of me. Although it classifies me, it does not define me completely. But hear this — I’m very proud of who I am and what I represent. So, as I look back at my time so far in the United States, I find myself repeating President Biden’s words over and over again: “America is, always has been, and always will be a Nation of immigrants.”
Bianca specializes in communications strategy, media relations and client relations. She has a wide range of experience with companies that touch on enterprise software and hardware, cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence and DevOps. Contact Bianca here