For some reason, when high school started, I began drifting away from my non-Asian friends. Academics became my life, enveloped it really. School, SAT, and tutoring. When junior year came around, for some as early as sophomore year, I think everyone that had grown up with me felt it. It became the Asians with the Asians, the others with the others. My school, Monta Vista, even had a section by a brick wall jokingly referred to as China Town that became virtually exclusively Asian. It wasn't like we (Asians vs. non-Asians) got into a fight. It wasn't like we were suddenly and dramatically racist. I think it had something to do with tradition.
Most of us Asians were second-generation. Our parents came from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Having worked hard all their lives in poverty-like conditions, when schooling was a luxury and most of our parents studied by themselves by lanterns lighted by fireflies, I suppose it's no big wonder why they pushed such stringent work ethics onto us. It would explain why the stereotype became the smart Asian, the stupid White, and if you didn't fit the description, you weren't normal. It became so bad that only excuses like "Group project" could get us out of the house to go out with friends, even to something like a school football game.
SAT classes became the latest fad. I remember, every Tuesday and Saturday, four hours on Tuesdays, eight on Saturdays Ė nearly every Asian at school, trapped in those drab office buildings rented out for stuffing our brains with math formulas and vocab words. Thatís what our parents were led to believe anyways. Most of us just tuned out and learned to be master procrastinators and expert night-before-the-test crammers. Some were even tempted by the dark side and learned how to cheat.
Sleep deprivation became a symbol of success. It didnít matter what we stayed up doing; most our parents assumed we were studying. Kids bragged the next day at school about how they pounded out a 10-page essay in four hours. Going to bed at 4am was a hall of fame accomplishment. Our end-of-year Senior edition school newspaper even awarded a Most Sleep Deprived honor.
Everyone it seemed talked about the UCs or the Ivy League. Kids became point-mongers in class, complaining fervently about their 97 when they felt they deserved a 98. Extracurriculars became a chore done for the sake of college app padding. There was no real passion for anything, really. From volunteering at the Quinlan Center, our city's main activity building, to creating clubs at school just to say they were president of something, everything was for college. No one wanted to go to DeAnza, one of the nationís top community college located right in our hometown.
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