January 20, 2007
Originally published in the Urbana Today Daily Paper, December 31 edition (PDF)
Answering God’s call and honoring parents
By Mary Chou
Even though Susan Hong’s parents are Christians, schoolwork always came before church.
“I feel that to our parents, spiritual life is important as long as we’re doing well in school,” said Hong, a UCLA graduate, reflecting on her experience as a Korean-American student. “If our grades got behind, it becomes ‘Oh, you’re spending too much time at church.’”
Lisa Yu, InterVarsity staff at Adelphi University, who led two Asian-American-specific seminars this week, said many Asian-American students struggle with their parents about career plans because of the clashes between Western culture and traditional Eastern views of success.
To most Asian parents, success means stability and many times it means to be financially stable, Yu said. She said Ephesians talks a lot about unity and the body of Christ. And in discussions this week, students used Ephesians as a way to build a connection they can share with their families.
“Those are good values that the Bible affirms,” Yu said.
“Many times, students feel that they are letting their parents down if they do not do things exactly according to their parents’ wishes,” Yu said.
“I feel like, our parents, they came to America to have a better life,” said Pauline Lee, a Korean-American student and a psychology major at UCLA. “For them, it’s to do careers that are esteemed.”
Lee, who plans to be a nurse, said when her father heard that she’s going into the medical field, he encouraged her to be a doctor: “He wants me to be the best and highest in whatever I do and to him, it means being a doctor.’’
But God’s calling, Yu notes, does not always line up with high paying jobs.
Her father still does not understand her choice to work with InterVarsity, but she said that she has learned to draw boundaries. “Following God doesn’t mean that paychecks and financial security aren’t important, because they are,” Yu said.
“It is about knowing limits,” Yu said, adding that it is important for students to talk to their parents to figure out realistic plans.
Deborah Chong, a Korean-American University of California-Santa Barbara student said her parents have lived in the United States for 20 years and have adopted a lot of American values.
“They gave me the choice to find my own passion, as long as I follow God,” Chong said. “My relationship with my parents is so much greater because they understand.”
Mary Chou is a student at California State-Sacramento
* Reprinted with permission from InterVarsity and Urbana Today. For more information on Urbana 06 go to www.urbana.org.
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