Personal Background Story

My family dynamic consists primarily of Japanese heritage, where my father is full Japanese and my mother is half Japanese and half Norwegian. My mother was born in Japan but came over to live in the states when she decided to attend an American college. My father is a third generation Japanese immigrant. I have a brother who is two years older. We have completely different interests, and this was even apparent while we were growing up. During my youth, I participated in various sports and was a three sport athlete in high school. My brother went with the route of wanting a nice car with the bass system and he always had to have the designer clothes. Even though my family has strong Japanese ties, we lived a very American lifestyle except for a few Japanese customs.

My parents never emphasized issues of race especially being of Asian descent but placed value of education and doing the best.  I remember one incident when I was in the fourth grade and my brother mentioned that one of my best friends was adopted. I argued with my brother that he was not adopted and that his parents were his “real” parents. I never realized or made the connection that my friend was Korean and his parents were white, which might imply that he was adopted. It had never occurred to me until that day when my mom said to me, “Your brother is right, your friend is adopted.” Growing up I never viewed myself or others by race but as individuals and I know a lot of this was because of the efforts my parents placed on loving and accepting everyone and not isolating us in the Japanese customs/community.

The neighborhood which I grew up in was not very diverse as it primarily consisted of middle-class Caucasian families. It was a small cul-de-sac and every family new each other well and would look after another.  My first experience of a diverse atmosphere was in elementary school where I was in the challenged/privileged program. I was with basically the same students from first through sixth grade. The program attracted a diverse group of families wanting to give their child the best education possible. Thinking back upon it now, white students may have been the minority in my elementary classroom. The school itself was mainly middle-class, white families but there was a fair share of other ethnic groups.

From junior high on I enrolled at a private Christian school. Not only was the school considered academically superior to many of the local public schools, but athletically was superior as well. The majority of the rival schools were small public schools located in the outskirts of larger cities. Many of these schools’ facilities were not up to the standard that I was used to and because of this I began to judge them. Not based upon the individuals but on how nice or run-down the schools were or how they were at sports. I started to think that I was more superior to these other schools students, not only athletically but academically as well. This thought process even occurred during my elementary days, when the challenged students, including myself, would make fun of the non- challenged students. I had shifted from my naive views as a child to becoming bias because of the opportunities I was given. I had forgotten that the individuals make the school and the schools do not make the individuals.

I believe that both a bias and a lack of bias can influence my approach as an educator. I think it is most important to realize these biases and not overlook them. By realizing my biases, I can then become more aware and use my education and knowledge as a platform for my biases in becoming a teaching advantage rather than a hindrance. I may find myself teaching in an underprivileged school someday, and this definitely does not make the students less capable.  Reverting back to my childhood days of viewing others as individuals and not by race or social status will help me be more equipped as an educator.  I feel like I will better understand and connect with my future students due to my schooling, the diversity within my classrooms and my parental upbringing.

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