The Identity section of this website explores individual voices of Chinese and Japanese as they consider the impact history and culture have had on their sense of belonging.

Essential Questions:

  • What factors influence how we see ourselves?
  • What role does a nation’s history play in shaping the way people see themselves and the way they see others?
  • How does culture affect our identities?
  • How do all of these facets of identity influence the decisions individuals make?

Calvin Chew Wong's Family: Four Generations of Immigrants

To Carry History: Calvin Chew Wong's Family: Four Generations of Immigrants

The story of Calvin Chew Wong is representative of the idea of generational history passed down that is explored in the reading To Carry History. It took four first generation immigrants of the Wong Family to come to settle in America before a second generation Wong was born on American soil. From Calvin’s family line, he, Calvin Chew Wong was the first generation to emigrate to America, his son Michael Wong was the first second generation to be born, and his grandson Justin Matsuura was the first third generation to be born to the Wong Family. Now there are three generations of Calvin Wong’s line who are living in America.

Readings in This Section

Genocide & Mass Violence

Connecting to Our Past

Jin Xuefei’s poem and Charlene Wang’s anecdote show how the context in which we understand our past can shape how we understand ourselves today.

Genocide & Mass Violence

To Carry History

How does history impact the way we see ourselves and others? American author and civil rights activist James Baldwin often wrote about the way that the past impacted the present.

Genocide & Mass Violence

Culture and Identity: East and West

Cultural psychologists Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner studied different ways of being, or what they term the independent and interdependent selves. Markus and Conner looked at a range of environments, from class- room participation to ways of parenting, between students from Eastern and Western cultures. While there are important variations and distinct differences within these regions and cultures, Markus and Conner shared some general observations.

Genocide & Mass Violence

Coming of Age During War

How do your childhood experiences shape your identity? For Japanese author and Nobel Laureate Oe Kenzaburo, World War II remains one of these memories and became a seminal part of his identity as an author.

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