Cloudflare TV

*APAC Heritage Month* The Asian American Experience: The Youth of Today

Presented by Fallon Blossom, Aishwarya Ramesh Nagarajan, Shivalika Keni, Albert Zhao, Maggie Yue
Originally aired on 

Tune in for a roundtable discussion on the Asian experience and cultural diversity in the United States from the millennial perspective.

APAC Heritage Month

Transcript (Beta)

Hello Cloudflare TV. I'm Fallon Blossom, the Senior Strategic Programs Manager for this live streaming broadcast and I'm really excited to host yet another segment celebrating Asian heritage and culture.

So I'm here today with some members of Asian Flare and Desi Flare, two employee resource groups here at Cloudflare for folks of Asian descent and their allies to amplify Asian voices.

We've been doing it all month and we're going to keep it going today.

So the discussion on the docket is the Asian experience and cultural diversity in the United States specifically from the millennial perspective.

We're all millennials on this segment and so we're going to talk about what we know.

So thank you everybody for joining me today.

How y'all doing? Pretty good Fallon, how are you? Good. So do you mind introducing yourself?

Anybody can start and when you do if you mind sharing who you are, what you do at Cloudflare and what your role is in your ERG.

Shivalika, you want to start?

Yeah, sure. I'm Shivalika. I'm a field BDR based in San Francisco and I am one of the co-leads for Desi Flare.

Aishwarya, you want to go next?

Absolutely. Hi everyone, this is Aishwarya.

So I am from the security team and I work here as a security operations engineer in the governance, risk and compliance side of things.

And my role is based in Austin and I joined Cloudflare before like eight months or something.

So I'm still a member of Desi Flare, but yeah, love what they're doing.

Maggie, you want to go next?

Hi everyone. I'm Maggie. I'm a product designer in the product design team under product at Cloudflare.

I'm just a lucky member to be a part of the Asian Flare group at Cloudflare.

And you have amazing plants. We were just talking about plants before we went live.

And Albert, last but not least.

Hey, I'm Albert. I'm on the workers product team as a workers community manager.

And I am just a happy member of Asian Flare. And a Cloudflare TV expert. What, this is your fourth segment?

Third segment in the past few weeks? Well, thank y'all.

So to set the stage and set the context for this conversation, again, we're talking about race, we're talking about ethnicity and identity.

So, you know, before we move forward, I kind of want to ask everyone to identify themselves, specifically your racial identity, how you identify and your ethnic identity.

We have decided at least for the next hour to kind of lean in and embrace discomfort a bit.

So I will do it first, just so y'all feel safe with me, right? So I identify as African American or Black, racially.

Ethnically, I'm Creole, because I'm from New Orleans.

And being from New Orleans shaped my culture, the food I eat, the way that I express myself, all of the above.

So if you don't mind kind of going around again, and maybe doing the same.

Yeah, I can go next.

I'm Albert. My parents are from China. And sort of like first generation Americans, I guess I identify as Asian American.

I will popcorn to Shivalika.

All right, cool. So yeah, same as Albert, I'm first generation American, but I'm Indian, and I grew up in India.

So that's the culture that I was surrounded by for most of my life.

I will popcorn to Aishwarya. Awesome. Thank you very much, Shivalika.

So I identify myself as an Asian. And I grew up in India for like my past 20 years.

I did my schooling, I did my undergrad. And yes, I'm from India.

I'm from the south of India. And I was here to the US for my master's. That was around my 20.

So in this show, all my experiences are going to be like my 20 years in India versus my observations after coming to the US.

So yeah. And I'm last, but ethnically, or racially, I am Chinese, but ethnically identify as what we call ABC, Asian born American, specifically from the Bay Area, so born and raised.

So this is home for me. Nice. Thank y'all. It wasn't that bad. I hope. So we kind of touched on where we grew up a little bit.

And so what were your first impressions of that place or that space where you kind of grew up as small children?

What did you think about it? So I actually spent the first, so I'm 22 to put a timeline.

I'm 22. I spent the first seven years of my life in Atlanta.

And then we moved to India. I was like six and a half.

So it was kind of culture shock for me. I visited in the summer, but not too often.

And I was pretty young to remember everything. So yeah, getting there was a lot of culture shock.

There's a lot of different people. It's obviously way louder and way more boisterous than it is here in the US.

So it was different. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood in comparison to living in the middle of the city once I moved to India.

So yeah, moving there was a bit of culture shock, but I guess I was young enough to kind of get over it pretty quickly as well.

So it very quickly became home.

So moving back to the US was like more culture shock. What would you say was more culturally shocking?

The first move or the second? Definitely the second one.

I feel like as you grow older, you have so many more habits and you're a little more ingrained in your routine.

So coming back was definitely a little more difficult.

I also had gone to a private school. So I graduated in like a class of 130 people and I knew everybody there.

So I also like didn't know how to be the new kid.

So that was like another thing coming back for college.

So definitely culture shock the second time around was much harder to deal with.

Now, does anybody else on the panel have a similar experience to that based on how they moved around as a kid or different?

I also moved to China when my dad had a job.

I was born in Houston, but you move to China where you don't think about elections really.

You just think about just trying not to get too much air pollution in your lungs and or a good place to see.

And that kind of just felt like a blur of 13 years of my life before I came back to States for college.

So I can definitely identify that third culture or third culture type of environment.

How about Aishwarya?

Absolutely. I actually have a pretty different kind of a story because I had my 20 years of life in India and I moved here like around my 21 years.

So I was already kind of matured and kind of into the adult stage when I moved here.

So talking about my experiences as a kid or something that's memorable when I was a kid, I want to take you guys all through this virtual reality lenses on like, there are a lot of things I have like memories about India, say for example, the festivals.

So the first thing that pops to my mind is like the festival that we have, those awesome memories.

There are a lot of things. So say for example, when talking about the cultural differences and cultural diversity between the American and Asian culture, one thing I feel like Asian culture is more like a collaborative kind of culture and an American culture is an independent culture.

What I mean is when we talk about Asian culture, so when I basically started to think on how I grew up and so if I'm going back to my home for Diwali, how will it be?

So we believe in this joint family kind of a system when you see like the family values.

So when I go back home, I definitely know like my grandmom and granddad would be there in the house because we all live in a joint family.

And then we would have these movies which are Bollywood, Kollywood sort of movies coming in.

And those are some of the movies that I can actually relate back. And we have festivals almost every month, honestly.

And for every festival, we do a lot of performances in the sense like our performance are so much related to our music and dance.

That's how the Asian cultures are. So in India, we have this thing called Carnatic music and Hindustani music, which are genres of music like pop or jazz that we do during each and every festival.

And one memorable thing that I can also think back is the climate in India.

India has three climates, hot, hotter, and artist.

Just kidding. That's totally on a lighter note. So we have this summer, winter, and tropical monsoon climate.

So that's something that I remember when I actually envisioned myself.

And sports, we have this thing called cricket.

And cricket is basically a religion in India, honestly. So I have like awesome memories.

And obviously my memories would be so different from you guys because my lifestyle was different.

So these are some of the things I kind of like remember when I did back myself as a kid growing up in India.

Thank you. I feel like I could see it and I could hear the sounds.

The only thing I couldn't do is smell the smells, but I don't know if I want to smell the smells.

The crackers are so fun, Salon.

Diwali is like bursting crackers. It's like amazing. And it's like so fun.

I mean, environment pollution is part two. That's a different story altogether.

But the fun part is like bursting crackers and basically having it smell and stuff.

It's amazing. And the sweets, of course, the food. That's so funny that you mentioned that y'all had so many festivals because, again, growing up in New Orleans, like I said before, it's the same thing.

We have a festival for everything.

We have for every food group, fried chicken, gumbo, strawberries. Like we will find an excuse to throw a party.

That resonates with me. I was in New Orleans last March.

It was like the last thing I got to do before everything shut down.

I was like on spring break and it was like right after Mardi Gras.

And oh, my God, we were like, we went to Bourbon Street like every night. But I remember being like, how do people live here and like live normal lives?

It's like a party all the time.

It very much reminded me of the way like India is and is like constantly celebrating.

You hear like processions going on the street all the time.

And I was like amazed by like I was there. I was like, this is just awesome.

It's like a party for like all the time. Well, yeah, I'm like, yeah, it's very fun.

But yeah, I don't know if we work as hard as the rest of the country, but I don't know if that's a bad thing.

Well, thank you all for that.

That's really cool. Thank you for sharing. So I'm curious.

I want to ask Maggie. So like what did you want to be when you grew up? Like what was your first big dream as a kid?

The earliest thing I can remember is wanting to be a veterinarian.

I'm sure a lot of kids have the same similar dream. But it was because I was surrounded by pets or the idea of pets, but never given the opportunity to have a pet.

I think a lot of Eastern Southeast Asian and Eastern Asian families feel this way, but animals have like a dirty connotation.

So dogs and fur, dirt, nothing should be in the house.

You don't even wear shoes in your home. It's an abomination.

If you step foot into someone's home, like an Asian household with shoes on.

So I was always like exposed to animals in the classroom. Like we had a pet, a class bunny that I could take care of, but I was never allowed to have one.

So I think that love turned into me wanting to be a veterinarian so I could be surrounded by animals.

But then when I realized they had to be sick animals, I immediately back out of that passion.

And the second thing that I really wanted to do was actually become an ice skater because the most affordable thing that we could do when we were growing up in the Bay area here was to go to an ice rink.

And I remember the first time I saw her, her name is Christy Yamaguchi.

She was an Olympic medalist.

She was actually practicing in the same ice rink in Oakland, like in the professional one.

And I watched her in awe. And it was someone who looked like me who was on TV and had won a medalist and was like recognized like nationally.

So that became my next dream until I realized I wasn't as coordinated as I wished I was.

And I think the funniest thing was my parents were very realistic.

Like, I think they always wanted me to succeed, but they were also really grounded in reality.

So they were like, oh, you're never going to do this. And it wasn't out of just like criticism.

It was because they knew somehow that it wasn't as realistic for me to dream that way.

But did you find that they kind of supported you in your journey through your various passions?

Not really. I think the reality was we were a low income immigrant family in the Bay area.

And so there was not a lot of accessibility to resources or things that were like, if you wanted to be an ice skater, you needed ring time, you needed a coach, you needed all this stuff that was beyond any kind of reach or any idea that was reachable for my family and I.

So a lot of that was the first goal is survive. And then the second goal was get a career where you will make money so you can support the entire family, not just yourself.

And that is actually something that I've kind of been noticing in these kind of panel conversations that we've had this month is this idea of, you know, either pressure or just maybe a differing of opinion about like, this is what I want and what is important for me versus this is what is expected of me.

Now, is that something that other folks, I see some nods.

How was that experience for everybody else?

That's one. Honestly, that's one. So the thing about I mean, I can speak to how I grew up and the Indian culture in general.

So in India, when we actually joke that when a baby is born, the baby was basically asked to be a doctor or an engineer.

Just two options. Oh, wow. You cannot. You cannot. You cannot.

Yeah, you like when you actually see the stats, like general stats. I took the stats from 2014.

In 2014, India contributed to the most number of percentages with respect to engineers and doctors in the world.

And that was 25 percent of the population.

And India is the second most populated country in the world.

So in 2014, 25 percent of the Indian population is doctor and engineer. I'm pretty sure like now it's 2021.

Globally or just in India? Globally. Wow. Wow.

Yeah. So and talking about pressure, the pressure and expectation is humongous and have personally been there.

So I'll take you through my instance on how my journey was.

So obviously, like every other family, I was given two awesome options, engineer or doctor.

And in my 10th grade, that's that's exactly when. So 10th grade is when we actually offer what we want to choose in a career.

So in India, the education system is Macaulay's education system, which is a U.K.-based education system.

So in that in 10th grade, we kind of decide what career path to choose.

So I kind of took something that can basically give me to both paths, doctor and engineer.

And I basically scored 20th rank out of 200,000 students in the medical in the entrance examination.

So I basically got admissions into both med school and engineering school.

I got the 20th rank out of 200,000 students, but still I couldn't basically satisfy my teachers or my family, 20 out of 200,000.

So that's basically the expectation and the kind of pressure that you face.

And honestly, that's also something that I like about the American culture is the kind of flexibility that the that environment gives you and asking you to follow your passion, asking you to do whatever you like.

That's that's something that I absolutely admire about this American culture.

And yeah, that's that's that's my thought.

Wow. Um, I I kind of had, I guess, similar pressure, but not really like I was never like you either become a doctor or an engineer or we're going to disown you if you don't do either.

My parents were very open minded and they, you know, gave me the freedom to to do what I wanted.

But it was kind of like pick something you like, but make sure it makes you money.

Like that was basically the conversation I always had with my parents.

So it was like, you know, the expectation is that you go to college and you get a college degree and you go into a career that's like stable.

So like for them, like being able to keep my job through the pandemic was like the ultimate mark of stability.

And they were like, oh, she's made it like straight out of college.

She hasn't had to worry about finding a new job or like delaying her start date.

Like she started as planned. She got to move to San Francisco.

It was like, it was a big thing. And I mean, I'm proud of it, but I know my parents were like extremely happy that given everything else that was going on in the world, I got to keep my job.

But yeah, my parents were pretty, pretty open minded about what I wanted to do in school.

So I ended up becoming like an econ and physics major in college.

And there, my dad was very happy that I was in STEM.

So I was kind of there's pressure there. It's like, maybe try to, you know, go into STEM.

And I was like, I'm not a super technical person, but I mean, I enjoy physics.

So I ended up doing it. I went to an international school.

I did the, like the IB program. So there you have a little more flexibility about, you know, which subjects you want to take.

But my school still was like, you have to take English, you have to take math and you have to take a foreign language and a science, but then you could like pick whatever else you wanted to do.

So yeah, I grew up in a pretty open-minded family, but it was always like, the pressure was pick something that's going to make you money and will let you keep your job and let you afford a comfortable lifestyle.

That sounds very American. I'm like, that's kind of what I got to.

They're just like, we don't understand your passions, but just don't be poor.

We've been broke too long.

We can't, we don't want to keep this going. Yeah. Alva, do you have anything to add?

Yeah. I would say my parents knew I was going to be a doctor and they're like, you can just marry one.

I'm like, yeah. Nice. Yeah.

It is interesting. I think, funny enough for me, I was born in 96. I'm like right at the cutoff for millennials.

And my brother is in Gen Z and you already feel the gap and how my parents were raising me compared to him.

I think, yeah, when you have immigrant parents, they have an idea of security that worked for them and they might like impress that on you.

But the nice thing about, I guess, tech, for example, is the barrier to entry just varies depending on what you're good at and what you're curious about doing.

So my career was just something they didn't quite think would happen in this way.

They thought like, oh, you studied history in college.

You probably just go teach kids. George Washington's birthday. I think that's what they think US history is.

It's just dates. But it's so cool. Yeah. Now we're at Cloudflare and we can have the space to talk about all these different experiences.

And I know, yeah, if I have kids, they're just going to have a very different idea too about what security and career stuff looks like.

So it's very helpful to have parents who aren't extremely molded and, yeah, turn you into a doctor or a lawyer or telling you to marry one of those two, which I have not successfully done.

Keep working on it. You got time. It's funny because I feel like even now as a millennial generation, we have much more privilege in career choices than even before, because for my family, it was doctor, teacher or lawyer, to which I was actually also in pre-law before I went into design.

And when I went to design, my mom's initial reaction was I did not come from China to work in a factory to make clothes for you to do the same thing because that was what design was for her.

And now she knows I work in tech as some sort of designer, which she doesn't understand at all.

But in her mind, it's better than becoming a YouTube blogger because she has no idea what stability means for people who are content creators.

It's like show them how much they make. Because, yeah, my grandma was kind of the same way.

And I'm like, well, look now. Yeah.

But it's just like a concluding point to that. In general, probably I can quote it like this.

Less risky and stable job is what we are towards. That's the kind of thing.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, when you think about the experience of, again, moving around and being displaced and trying to figure out what home and all that stuff means, you're already taking a risk just by doing it.

So why take more risks when you're already kind of in this precarious potentially situation?

So honestly, it's pragmatic.

It actually makes a lot more sense. But again, just thinking about my own personal experience as somebody who got a little pressure, it's a little stressful.

A little stressful. So kind of as y'all moved from childhood to adolescence, so let's kind of think from like 10-ish to now, how did all of these experiences inform kind of how you shaped your identity?

How did they actually inform how you are now and who you became to be?

I think because I grew up in a pretty open -minded family, it was pretty normal to like, I guess arguments is the wrong, debates would be the better term.

We were always having debates and discussions about things going on in the world.

And I was always allowed to form my own opinion on things and be like, hey, I think you're coming from a great place, but this is what I think.

It was never like, this is the way it's going to work, and you have no say.

Most things I was allowed to form my own opinion, choose what I want to do.

And that definitely paved the way for everything that happened later on, because it gave me a lot of freedom to, first of all, pick what I want to do.

But even just in general, it made it very comfortable for me to go back to my family anytime something was wrong and ask them for help or be like, this is what's happening.

What advice do you have for me? Because I was able to kind of openly always discuss anything with them.

And so I think that also probably is what ended up getting me into sales.

But yeah, I mean, I was always open and able to just openly discuss things with my family without fear of being scolded or being like, how dare you say such things?

Or why are you thinking about X, Y, and Z?

So that definitely shaped my identity and who I am today. Thanks.

Thanks for sharing. Anybody else have a similar or different experience? I would say, sort of a tangent, but the one thing that I can think of right now that really shaped my personality is I think by nature, I am very stubborn as a person and super independent.

And because my parents always grew up pressuring me to do better, become stable and make money.

It was through multiple means, like either find a job yourself or find someone who can support you, because I am the only female in the family and I should find a man to rely on.

So that makes me super like angry when I think about it.

And it's funny because my partner is a white man. And the first reaction was, oh no, you can't marry him.

He is not going to speak Chinese. I don't think you should marry him.

And then when he graduated college, got a good job as an engineer, they were like, okay, girl, lock her down, lock them down and get pregnant.

He will take care of you for life. And that triggered me. I'm like, oh heck no.

Like I'm definitely finding a job and I will make more money than this person, even though I love him.

I'm not going to depend on this person. Like I'm going to make my own money and do whatever I want with it.

There's no way I'm depending on a man.

Come through. I also hear that also makes me think about that. I don't know if y'all know Ali Wong, the comedy that she has about how she found her husband.

Look at her. Amazing. But yes, I got a similar message.

Yeah. Yeah. Aishwarya, you unmuted. Were you going to say something?

Oh yeah. So I think shaping up is concerned as we move from our childhood to adolescence, I would say my system actually made me more responsible is what I'd say.

I would say I'm a pretty responsible person when it comes to planning something, putting a roadmap and envisioning and having a proper plan organized, all those sort of things.

And since I faced a lot of pressure with respect to the academic side of things that are concerned or getting a job or these kind of things are concerned, it actually made me more better is what I feel.

Because honestly, after coming to US, which is like a more flexible kind of an environment after going through all these things there, I felt like I just felt like a breeze, you know, because I felt like I already faced all these things.

And probably after going through all those difficult expectations in schools and stuff like that, it was pretty easy for me to come here and basically be a topper in my department or anything of that sort is concerned.

So I think it is absolutely, yeah.

And yeah, I think it has basically changed my perspective also on looking at things and being more responsible, so on and so forth.

So I think that's how it has basically shaped me is what I would say.

They say pressure makes diamonds.

So hey, sometimes it works. Yeah.

So I think after coming to, sorry, Fallon, but after coming to this point, there are also a lot of places where I felt that pressure was good.

So, you know, obviously, we would also kind of have like an open kind of a discussion and all this stuff.

But I feel sometimes pressure are good. And sometimes you just have to sometimes listening to your parents are much better.

So that's probably a lesson learned to me.

So. They do have good intentions, usually, those parents. So this next one, I'm going to kick it to you, Albert, because I want to make sure that we getting everybody in here.

So were there times growing up where you felt like your peers interacted with you differently than others?

And you might know why? How did that feel?

Yeah, I actually didn't really see Asian-American as an identity when I was growing up because I grew up like in a really like mostly Caucasian, Hispanic area of Houston.

And it would only come up when, you know, there was like some name calling.

And then I would move to China where everyone looked like me.

But I still actually felt more out of place because I didn't really speak the language.

I didn't like the way traffic ran in Shanghai. I felt like people run you over.

And you kind of realize as you as you kind of meet more and more diverse groups of people that there's no like there's no norm.

There's more just like how much you can exchange with other people.

And I think in China, you really learn that people actually may look more similar, but then other differences really highlight, like, what's your tolerance for people's like English speaking level?

What's your tolerance for the idea of personal space or the idea or cultural feelings around dating, marriage, like Maggie mentioned, just try to lock a dude down.

I mean, it's funny that her parents were like, you should have a because Maggie has like thousands of plants behind her.

She's like, she's a plant mom. Like, I can't keep a fern alive for too long.

So this is this is already an amazing amount of responsibility.

So yeah, I think growing up, you only get that sort of identity of otherness when people make it make you feel that way.

And that kind of breaks down once you do grow up in some international community where everyone's kind of different.

So you don't really pay mind that much. What Oh, Maggie, go ahead.

Sorry. I was gonna say I actually was painfully aware of my otherness in both growing up in the Bay Area and going back to China to visit.

Here, I was definitely not American because I was Asian in like, externally.

Even growing up as a kid, I remember I recall so many instances where people were like, Oh, your nose is flat.

Why is it like they noticed facial features and stuff.

And then when I go to China, I'm for context, virtually, I am five foot nine, I'm really tall for an Asian.

And so when I go back to China, they're like, Oh, my God, are you actually Chinese, even though I speak Chinese, but when you tell a Caucasian partner around to all over China, they're like, Oh, you're definitely don't belong here.

And so I get other there too, because they don't assume I don't speak Chinese.

And they also just assume that I'm not Asian, because I'm so tall.

It's the strangest experience. That makes me wonder about the idea of like the diaspora, again, coming from my perspective, you know, as a African American black person in the US and lived in the US, like, there's that idea of this connection to the continent.

But and y'all forgive me if I'm wrong, again, like, how does that work in the Asian community?

Do y'all still feel that same kind of connection diasporic type thing?

I'd be really curious to hear from like Chewbacca.

For me, it makes you feel like a part of the bigger movement.

But you're also realizing when in the context of history, you know, you're in America, and it's generally a better place for a lot of reasons.

So you just kind of grateful to the destination. Yeah, I mean, I kind of went back and forth a little with like, my identity, I guess when I was like, living here, I was very young.

So it wasn't much of like a conversation.

And then I moved to, you know, moved to India. And at first, it was like, I feel like I don't belong here.

But again, because I was young, I felt it was really easy to like, assimilate myself.

And now I like identify with India and like everything back at home, versus here, even though I'm like an American citizen, and I've like spent a good amount of time here.

And so yeah, I didn't like occur to me until after I came back.

And I remember, like, this is such a specific instance.

But I remember when I came back for college, and I was like, at international orientation.

And even though I was a US citizen, they made me attend it because I hadn't done high school here.

And I was like, checking in for orientation.

And they're like, Oh, where are you coming from? And I was like, I'm coming from India, blah, blah, blah.

And she goes, you speak such good English. And it I've never experienced microaggressions or anything.

No one had ever made any kind of comment like that.

And it was just, I was like, so astounded in that moment. I was like, is this what people think when people are coming from India that like someone who doesn't speak English, they probably think we don't have like the proper infrastructure.

And I just, I was like, very, very taken aback by that comment that she made.

And that was the first time I realized that I was in a in a place where I, I don't think I would ever fit in because of like, where I've come from and the color of my skin.

And, and so yeah, like when I go back home, it's so comforting almost to like, just be around people who look like me.

I'm a local, I grew up in Bangalore and that's where my family's from.

So I like speak the language and I eat the food and everything.

So I just feel so comfortable when I go back.

Cause I'm like, Oh, this is home. No one's going to make comments like, Oh, you speak such good English or why does your food smell that way?

Yeah. Like I can breathe.

I'm home. And so that's kind of just like been, been my experience with like identity as I've moved back and forth.

Yeah. Thank you for sharing.

Aishwarya, do you have something to add? Yeah. Yeah. I think plus one to Shivalika.

Same thought, but in a different perspective, I was, I was actually with a different employer and I heard one of my coworkers telling a group discussion that you, you basically come to meetings on time, but that's not what Indians do, you know, punctuality.

Yeah. I mean, I think, talking about all these diasporas are concerned and all these things are concerned.

I think every culture will have something like that.

Every, I mean, I would say like exceptions shouldn't make examples, you know, shouldn't be taken as an example.

You have exceptions in each and every culture.

And I feel like giving a generalized statement like that was, was pretty, pretty heartbreaking during that point of time.

But I think it's all about breaking stereotypes.

Right. So I was on time, which means that, that I broke whatever that was in his mind.

So it's about breaking the stereotype and how you're coming forward and stuff like that.

That's, that's, that's where I feel it's important, but I feel, yeah, there's something like that.

There's there is already a template set and it's about basically our generation breaking those templates, breaking those stereotypes and, and marching forward and coming forward.

And I think that's, that's where everything is all about, I guess.

It's not today. Exceptions shouldn't be examples like that.

That's a word. Put that on a t -shirt. You drop on the mic today. No. And honestly, that's really, that is a really good point to make because, I mean, I don't recall who actually said this during a TED talk, but when they were talking about stereotypes, it was not necessarily that they are untrue.

They're incomplete. And so kind of your comment made me think about that.

It's like, yeah, maybe some of us, but not all of us look at us in our totality, you know, not, yeah.

So I hear that resonates.

So actually somebody mentioned food and I can't stop thinking about food now.

So let's, let's talk about the food stuffs. I just had lunch before and I'm ready to eat again.

So when you're thinking about like the, that part of the culture, like what were the kind of common foods that y'all were eating growing up and like reactions from others about them?

Like I've heard this from some of my friends, like when they brought food to lunch and sat at the lunch table.

So what was that like for y'all?

I honestly don't know where to start and where to end.

I honestly don't know where to start because we have so many varieties of food.

Rice and wheat are basically our staple foods in India.

So our breads and grains that we eat and our value system is actually based in such a way that we consider food as a medicine.

So the food that we cook in our routine, we have these things like ginger, turmeric, we have cumin seeds, which basically have these medicinal values and our value system and culture system is actually based in such a way that we impart all these things in our daily, day -to-day life so that we basically have a healthy living.

That's what is our culture all about. And talking about introducing food, I've always been an introducer to my American friends, honestly, with respect to food is concerned, especially in my school.

I'm not a great cook, I agree, but I can take them to a lot of places.

I took them to a lot of Indian restaurants and places where they're really loved.

So when you actually bite any Asian food, especially, I'm a big lover of all these foods, when you actually take a bite, you can actually see the exploration of taste and flavor.

So that's like amazing. So yeah, so that's my thought about food and ginger.

No, it's a full body experience from like my perspective.

Yes, you're going to smell, you're going to taste, you might sweat a little depending on if it's hot, depending on what you're using to eat it, your hands or chopsticks.

You have to think about how you're going to get everything, that perfect bite.

Oh yeah. Oh my God, I'm hungry again. I know, right? This is terrible.

Albert, were you going to say something? Well, now you mentioned chopsticks.

I'll admit I was actually holding chopsticks around the whole time, like forever.

And then I on a trip back from China to America, I was just watching like white people hold chopsticks better than me.

And I was like, oh, I bring this honor.

No, but I did. Yeah, I do like how Shoraya talked about like the medicinal benefits of food.

That's definitely a thing in China too, the concept of like hot or cold vibes.

I guess this is the one way to put it. Like if you're coughing, you have a little bit too much heat.

So if you eat things that cool you down, like winter melon, these things that are just, yeah, compared to the States where if your kid has a fever, you just give him a popsicle.

So I did grow up, yeah, just having a bit more weird voodoo science tied to what I ate.

But it did make me like homesick for just a pop tart.

Like I would just ask for a pop tart eventually growing up.

Plus one to all of that.

There's this, in Chinese culture, there's like a thing called chi or like energy.

And so the food you eat makes the energy around you change.

Literally whenever I ate, like whenever I told my mom I felt sick, it wasn't, oh, are you okay?

The first answer is, did you eat fried food? That's probably why you feel sick.

Drink herbal tea. That's always the first reaction before I go into detail, what about me feels sick, but that's essentially the reaction.

I definitely have a very typical, I think American born Chinese experience where growing up, I ate a lot of Asian food at home.

I was always in the kitchen with my grandparents and my mother cooking.

My uncle and my grandfather were both chefs.

My grandfather actually turned his entire backyard into a farm. He had chickens.

He had like 10 different types of fruit trees, all kinds of Asian vegetables, all the extras he would take to the local Chinatown and sell them on the street.

So, um, I ate a lot of Asian food there, but when I was out of the home, I wanted nothing more than to blend in because I was already being called out for not looking like them.

And so I would beg my parents for Lunchables that Turkey and crack a combo was the thing that I had weird meat.

It was also cold. And it's like, yo, you're going to stack this and do what with it?

Oh, yeah. So that's what I wanted more than anything, even in high school.

That's, I wanted just an American lunch, but I found that when I got older and now I can appreciate all those things about my heritage, I'm clinging more and more to it.

Um, as I grow older, like I constantly crave Asian food and it's not even just Chinese food.

It's Asian food. That's really prominent throughout the Bay area.

I eat Vietnamese food. I eat Japanese food, like all of those kinds of food bring me comfort and like a sense of clinging on to some sort of identity that I don't always relate to.

I can relate to that.

I totally see Maggie. Sorry. And I totally see where that indoor garden came from, Maggie.

My grandfather's farm. It's in her blood. Oh, yes.

Shivalika, what were you going to say? Yeah. Um, I was going to say like for me, so I just came back from India, like went home and I came back and like, I purposefully didn't take a lot of like clothes or anything like that.

So I could make sure my suitcase was like filled with as much Indian food that I could legally bring into the U.S.

And it happens every time. I'm very picky about the snacks I eat in the U.S.

because I've grown up eating Indian snacks. And so like I remember like three days before it was time for me to leave, I like gave my dad a long list of like, these are all the things I need to take back.

And I was like, he's like, are you sure?

I'm like, yes. And he's like, OK. And so I'm like, that's the way I've like held on a lot is all the food.

Now, obviously, you can't be bringing back like spices and things like customs isn't going to let you travel with it.

So like I bring back things like cereal and like biscuits and like all kinds of snacks I like to bring back.

I like make sure to buy most of my spices from like Indian grocery stores because I'm like, I would rather cook with Indian spices than like American, like buying McCormick at the grocery store is not something I would do.

I would rather go and buy Indian spices at the Indian grocery store.

And so, yeah, I think food is like definitely the biggest food religion are the two ways that I've like clung on to my like Indian identity after moving here.

So, yeah, I like I like that's how I kind of had my my whole food experience.

I never had the like, you know, what does that smell like? What are you eating?

Because I grew up in India and like my school had a cafeteria. So we were served lunch and it was all Indian food.

And even like like when I was in college, my friend group was Indian.

So we were all like eating Indian food. So it wasn't anything like out of the ordinary.

But for me, food has been like the way to hold on to home after like moving back to the US.

Oh, that's wonderful. I've also heard very good things about Indian mangoes.

Best, the best mango. You can't sit here and argue with me about Mexican mangoes, Alfonso mangoes are the best mangoes you will eat in your life.

I promise. Shots fired. Whoa. Actually, we're going to have to have you back on with the host of Esta Semanas who is Mexican and y'all can have a mango off.

Someone was saying that like Mexican and Indian food is like weirdly similar, like someone was comparing nachos to like chaat and the way you have like like base of like tortilla chips.

So we have like the base of like the whatever the puppety or whatever it is.

You pour on like yogurt, which I guess would be like sour cream.

Someone was like making those weird comparisons. I'm like, yeah, I guess your edge flavor profile is totally different.

So, OK. Oh, I've heard Mexican tamales to Chinese tamales.

That's what they call them. But it's sticky rice and not even cornmeal.

It's the strangest comparison. Yeah, I don't generally know how to feel about Asian fusion in the U.S.

Like I also remember growing up and like this is no diss to Wendy's disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer.

But they had like an Asian salad on the menu.

And I'm like, what makes this Asian? Not an Asian salad. Like what?

Where does this come from?

Well, at home, our version of salad is just like sliced cucumber and carrots and onion.

It's not like like sweet green salad where you're like shredded lettuce and this and that.

But my mom's like, I've cut salad. It means there's just a giant plate of like sliced cucumber.

There's onion and there's carrot and tomatoes and sometimes lime or like sprouts on top.

But yeah, that's that's our salad.

I just came back from an Asian fusion place for lunch with my boss. And on the menu, it was like we were the number one best Asian smokehouse.

And I was like, is that like a category where they voted on somewhere?

Did the Asian smokehouses just like join forces and voted?

And they had stuff like pear Asian salad with a kimchi emulsion.

And I was like, I think a Korean grandma would just read that and go like, I'm going to have a seizure.

What's an emulsion? This is like this isn't kimchi.

What is this? But I think it's just kind of like what Chewbacca said.

Also what Maggie said, too, like people kind of conflating like different things.

It tastes good, but it's just kind of confusing. Maybe don't like paint the whole continent on this plate because that's kind of impossible.

I will say that I don't I don't want to diss on Asian fusion.

Fusion is a negative connotation for some reason in the foodie community.

But in general, I don't mind if people try to fuse things based on the locale ingredients or try to make something fresh from the things they're familiar with.

But own up to it. Don't call it that.

So that if people are like going to China and they go, I had this great dish at Panda Express.

Where is it? Like completely different things. You need to make sure just really clearly communicate that it's a fusion or that it's something that you're taking inspiration from and not just trying to claim it.

Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. I worry about Americans going to China talking about, hey, can I get some orange chicken?

I don't hate orange chicken, no. I think, yeah, just like Maggie said, just own it.

Just say you like orange chicken. I mean, I like it, but I feel like, I don't know, like if you're going to go there, kind of try to do as the Romans or whatever.

When in Rome, I guess that's the thing.

It's like, yeah, that's the thing that frustrates me about seeing fellow Americans abroad.

Ignorance is obvious. Yeah, even like even in America, there's different kinds of local food.

Like Creole has Creole food and Indian has different kinds in China.

Like don't go to Vietnam and think everyone in Vietnam eats pho. There's different kinds of pho.

You have to make sure you're just being aware that there is different food based on different locale and availability of resources.

Yeah, do your Googles.

Just a little research. Don't be loud and wrong. So I kind of want to talk a little bit more about like the gender expectations because we kind of touched on it a little bit, but let's hit on it.

So how did that interact?

How did that, excuse me, affect your interaction with your family and your friends?

And did that look different depending on what country you were in? I can start.

I am the only female among my siblings. I have three brothers. It was extremely clear to me because in my family, our culture was always value the men.

It's because they pass on the family name, I guess. And so as an example, growing up, I was the only one made to do chores.

I did everything in the house. I had to babysit my youngest brother.

And when we all became of driving age, I was the only one not supported to get a car because I just wasn't supposed to.

So it was very clear to me, even like in America, there's a lot of gender equality issues already.

It also happened a lot in my home, is probably why I have such strong personality on the subject.

But does that experience resonate with anybody else or did you experience something different?

I mean, I like didn't ever have like I have a younger sister, so I didn't have like that double standard, though I've seen it with one of my best friends.

She has a younger brother and I see the way her parents treat him versus the way they treat her.

And he gets away with a lot of things that my friend did not. And she is always so mad about it.

And she's like, it's because he's a boy. They treat him differently and they let him get away with things because he's a guy.

And so I never had any of that double standard.

But there was always an expectation from your extended family, even if my parents are not sitting there like they're 22 now, you have to think about getting married and having kids.

Like even though that was the expectation for them, that's not the expectation on me.

But I mean, there are a lot of my extended family that are like, when's she getting married?

And like, we can find her someone.

And my parents like, no, please leave her alone. Like she's perfectly capable of finding a partner on her own and we will leave her to that.

So yeah, that's not any pressure that I felt.

But I think in general, I mean, growing up as a woman in India, it's always a little difficult.

You're growing up in like a very patriarchal society.

Even if people aren't outrightly saying it to you, it's very subliminal, like in the way they say things to you, the way they treat you.

And there's always all this conversation about like women's safety.

And I mean, I always felt safe where I was, but I remember hearing stories from my mom when she was growing up in Delhi that like getting groped on the bus was like totally normal.

And it's just difficult growing up in a country like that.

And so you kind of learn to like protect yourself a little more, but that's kind of like, I guess the gender and expectations that I faced, at least for me.

But yeah. Yeah. I think in my perspective, I would definitely say like equality is something that's actually growing in society, honestly.

When we compare our generation with the baby boomers or something like that, obviously we are far better.

And I'm pretty confident that as we move on, it's going to improve in such a way that we are going to have equality and all this stuff, Arkansas.

And answering your questions, I've really not faced anything like that so far.

But yeah, but I think we are marching towards equality.

So, and yeah, today is not far. That's one thing that Tuck actually helps with.

I was actually talking to my cousin the other day and we both kind of realized that like we have so much access to information in a way that very few generations have had before us.

So it would kind of be a little bit of a tragedy to not leverage that to continue moving things forward and improving things for as many people as possible.

Right. My, seems like that's fair. Yeah. I think as we are moving, we are honestly marching towards like a better environment, a better lifestyle.

So I'm pretty confident that we are going to move to a better place.

Oh, well, okay. So we're about at like that five minute mark. So I just want to make sure that we have enough time to kind of get to this big question that is kind of connected to the theme of the whole entire, you know, thing that we're doing on Cloudflare TV this month.

So when I ask all of you, why do you think like having conversations like this is important?

Why is it important to continue amplifying Asian voices this month all the time?

Why does that matter to you? I, I think back to like that comment that was made to me when I was like checking in for orientation.

And I think that's exactly the reason why we should continue having these conversations.

I, I just, I remember thinking like that was just amazing to me. And then the following year, I went through orientation training to become an orientation leader.

And we spent two days on a thing called diversity 360 training. And part of it includes microaggressions.

And it's all usually microaggressions that other students are making towards each other because you're sitting in like a group of like people from all over the place.

And not everybody's very familiar with growing up with people who come from different backgrounds.

And that's what we were trained.

And I was like, I remember going through that training going, we sit here and we get trained about this.

Yet that girl like made this comment to me a year ago when I was like checking in for orientation, like, oh, you speak such good English.

And I don't know for exactly that reason. I think it's important to, to talk about this, that like not everybody has that same experience that you think about.

And we all grow up differently.

We all do things differently. And just because you have one view of it doesn't mean it's, it's the only view that there is like, there's so much more going on than what you think.

And I think that's exactly why it's important to keep having these, these conversations.

I'm very lucky that we work at a place that allows this to happen, especially for a whole month.

Like that's, that's amazing.

So. I agree. Glad that you're doing it on Cloudflare TV. Shameless plug.

Glad to be here. Definitely plus one to that, Fallon. And why amplifying Asian voices are important is awesome question to wrap up this segment, I guess.

And I'm a firm believer who feels like we can create a constructive society or a constructive community, only when intelligence or power doesn't overtake humanity, you know?

So once we started having this thing of when, when either our intelligence or our power started overtaking humanity, that's, that's exactly when, you know, like racial discriminations or maybe any sort of society, I mean, communal riots or anything, any, any sort of things occur.

So in my personal opinion, there are a lot of things that I really appreciate about the American culture.

My, my trip to US. So I really love the way how people greet each other when we walk on streets, you know, like strangers giving you a smile and greeting you.

That's not something that's common in the Asian culture. I really love the way the kind of infrastructure that the American culture provides to a disabled person.

You know, it's not pretty common in India where a person sitting on a wheelchair goes to a building, does his job and come back just sitting on a wheelchair, you know?

So the kind of infrastructure that America gives to disabled people is something that's amazing.

And that's, that's something that Indian people or Indian government should take.

And while talking about what I learned from my system, my value system in India, yoga, we, we basically, the lifestyle that we have is, is, is amazing.

We believe that food is medicine, the hospitality that we give to people.

We are strong believers that every relationship in your life, your personal relationship, your relationship with your partner or any person in your life, you have to give that sort of an importance.

And we value nature.

We worship nature. So there are like, so what I'm trying to say is we have amazing culture.

We have all these different value systems. If, if we want to go together as a society, we can only do it when we appreciate these cultural values and exchange between these different cultural systems.

And that's where we are going to create a better future for our future generations and a better future for our future community.

And I really appreciate you for hosting this.

So this is amazing. Yeah. Oh, my pleasure. All right. We got about a minute left and I do want to hear from both of y 'all.

So go. I think we just need more people like Fallon.

Like Fallon has been leading these segments and she's been so intellectual and curious.

I, I, I think, yeah, be like Fallon and Anthony Bourdain mixed.

A lot of food and travel. Then you will love. If Paltrow wants to pay me to travel, please do.

Sponsor Fallon. Hashtag. Yeah. Oh, do I need to drop my cash?

Maggie, 25 seconds left. Okay. Two points is important. One is build community.

I've met and got to know all of you so much more. And I appreciate like a lot of the things that we can talk about that we relate to and can understand from each other.

The second part is that it amplifies each other's voices.

It doesn't make people feel alone. Like I mentioned, the reason I wanted to be an ice skater was I saw someone like me.

So hopefully people seeing faces like ours on here will be like, oh, the things I experienced aren't alone.

And people who are doing this right now look like me.

I can also kind of dream that way. So those are my two points there.

Thank you everybody. And thank you for tuning in.

Thumbnail image for video "APAC Heritage Month"

APAC Heritage Month
Join Asianflare and Desiflare as the highlight APAC Heritage Month.
Watch more episodes