Assignment 2 - Stephanie Chin Gina Conti Assignment 2...

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Stephanie Chin Gina Conti Assignment 2 Assimilation to mainstream American culture has been a trend that, only in recent decades, is beginning to wane as generations are learning how to adapt to a new lifestyle and, at the same time, hold on to cultural beliefs. Although the need to assimilate is on the decline, immigrant families are still being forced to make decisions about assimilation from generation to generation as they find themselves in a new and different home. “What Means Switch” by Gish Jen is a story of an Americanized young Chinese girl and her doubts about her family’s decisions to assimilate after she meets a Japanese boy who is unchangingly proud of his culture. The relationships and interactions of the narrator in “What Means Switch” illustrate how generational changes cause a chain effect of assimilation that at first may seem desirable, but eventually run creates disappointment and confusion from loss of culture for future generations. Assimilation is most desirable, but also harder, for first generation immigrants because it helps establish a stable economic and social life when they first move to a new country. Learning the language and the local ways of life are important when immigrant families enter into new neighborhoods so that they may avoid alienation. Language is the most significant adaptation because of its impact on communication with others. Not knowing the language of a host country makes it difficult to survive because communication barriers lead to social barriers that in turn make it hard for immigrant families to become a part of the community. As Gordon points out through his idea of generational changes, first generation immigrants establish themselves, make connections, and create a lifestyle for themselves, and although it is most beneficial for
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them it is also harder for them to completely culturally assimilate (Feagin and Feagin 32). In Gish Jen’s short anecdote the mom angrily and forcefully yells that this is the U.S. of A at the young Japanese boy after he draws a Japanese flag, which illustrates the notion that first generation immigrants push harder to assimilate than future generations. The
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