Ochs embraces culture while still feeling `left in the middle’
May 24, 2023
Senior Stephanie Ochs is half-Chinese and half-White, a combination that sometimes has her feeling “left somewhere in the middle.”
“I look Asian and my mom speaks Chinese and we eat and make Chinese food,” Ochs said. “But at the same time I am not surrounded by the language or culture. I exist in a weird gray area and it’s very unique being mixed racially.”
That “gray area” sometimes shows up during routine experiences.
“When I go to the Chinese grocery store, I always have to say that I only speak English because I look Chinese and they assume,” Ochs said.
Her mother moved to San Diego from China when she was 18, as she was pressured by her parents to leave Taiwan, as they felt she would have a better life in the United States.
I think the thing that gets me is the stereotype of Chinese people being the model minority
— Stephanie Ochs
Ochs has a hard time connecting with her culture at times. She explains that she wants to learn the Chinese language Mandarin in the future, but she doesn’t now because of her mother’s experience with her older sister.
“After my older sister only spoke Chinese, my mother learned that it would be really hard socially to balance it because no one would understand her,” Ochs said. “So my mom decided to not teach me any of it.”
Still, she celebrates and appreciates her culture.
“The food is fantastic,” Och said. “Chinese culture has a lot of legends and myths and historical accounts and it’s so interesting if you dig into it. There’s just so much.”
Ochs also tries her best to incorporate Chinese culture into her life.
“There are definitely parts of my life that are Chinese. We shop at the Chinese market and celebrate the Lunar Year,” Ochs said.
Though she loves her culture, she has experienced hate for it, as she would get called derogatory names in elementary school and called “illegal” on the bus while growing up, Ochs said.
She also said she has experienced harmful stereotypes about being Chinese.
“I think the thing that gets me is the stereotype of Chinese people being the ‘model minority’ ” she said, referring to the stereotype that Asians are all high achieving.
“It is these racist ideas that can get into people’s heads where they think it’s okay to say because it isn’t a `harmful’ stereotype to say,” Ochs said. “But it can really devalue people’s hard work and be harmful to someone if they don’t fit the expectations.”