Who I am now and what I have become is a result of a combination of experiences and people. My own social development has been highly influenced by different aspects of my life – my family, the cultures I have been exposed to, and my experiences in life. Indeed, each of these factors plays a significant role in my life.
Fortunately, I came from a very nurturing family – a significant factor that contributed to my own social development. I am a first born, and I found it to be an advantage for me. My parents and extended family (e.g., grandparents, aunts, and uncles) were quite excited and game me their full attention as a child. Moreover, my parents were always there whenever I need them, so I learned to trust them. As I build my trust within my own family, I also learned to be more trusting of others. Despite providing utmost care and consideration to my needs, my parents also know how to provide me with proper discipline. I learned to follow a set of rules and be responsible with my actions at an early age. As a child, I was taught how to do the chores and make minor decisions to learn how to take control of different situations. This way, I learned how to be independent little by little. Because of my parents’ parenting style, I believe that I was totally ready to be a big brother when my younger brother was born. I made sure that I also gave him the same nurturing and caring attitude that my parents projected to me when I was younger. As he and I were growing up, we did fight from time to time just like other siblings. This is because despite knowing that independence is an integral part of his development, I used to be intimidated and uncomfortable with the fact that he was growing up and becoming independent on his own. Perhaps at that time, I was thinking that soon enough, he would no longer need his big brother to look after him. Soon enough, I was able to accept the idea. I was happy to see him grow with self-confidence, the same confidence that I was able to develop through the efforts of my parents.
Just like my family, the cultures I have been exposed with helped shape my own social development. I am a Chinese, and I spent my growing up years within the Chinese culture. In China, almost everyone values good education, and this idea has been instilled in the minds of children at a young age. This is not just an ideology but a serious practice. Once I got into school, my parents were not the only ones who convinced me to study hard. My teachers and other school staff were quite serious about me and my classmates’ academic performance. Because I knew that people around me were expecting me to do well in school, I learned to develop a quite rigorous study habits. I spent long hours studying and preparing for the next class, and I enjoyed it. Most of the time, I choose reading over playing. I made sure I am always prepared for exams days before it even happened. This was not a new practice. I was around other students who were doing the same. Others even have private tutors to walk them through their subjects right after school. Within the Chinese culture, we take achievements seriously and we are almost always committed to getting what we want. This kind of commitment is something that I was able to take with me even today. When I finished my first year of high school, I went to the United States, and this experience of being in a totally different culture made my life far richer in terms of experience. I did experience culture shock. It was a struggle at first, but as I got to understand how the Eastern and Western culture differs from each other, I also learned how to make the necessary adjustment. For instance, when I first got in the United States, I found it hard to make connections to other international students. First, my English skills were quite poor at that time. Second, I wasn’t as sociable as most Westerners are. However, as I learn to develop my English and as I observe how other students were making connections, I learned to be more open about making friends and building bridges with other students who grew up from different cultures (e.g., India and Philippines).
I didn’t come from a rich family, but my parents were hardworking and diligent enough to raise money to send me here in the United States to study. Both of them were highly educated, and this is why they both were able to get stable jobs. As I have previously mentioned, we value education to a great extent. This was probably my parents’ vision because even when I was young, I was told that I will study in the United States in the future. My parents prepared for this so they could afford my education. I was not the first one to study abroad. I have extended relatives who also spent most of their adult years in the United States to finish their degree. It seems like for most of us in China, this has been a common belief – studying in the United States will open more opportunity. I cannot disagree with this. Ever since I started studying in the U.S., my parents never fail to meet my financial needs. During my first two years, I attended Azusa Christbridge Academy. This is where I made the most adjustment because I had to learn how to speak and write in English as fast as I could. The confidence that I got was quite helpful because every time I thought that I was failing, I got back up and told myself that my parents trust me, so I must trust myself. After two years, I transferred to Citrus College. I wanted to transfer to a University, but I needed to be more prepared emotionally and academically. My experience in Citrus College was quite helpful. I was able to meet reliable friends and teachers who helped me along the way as I adjust to my new environment. I believe that the self-discipline that was instilled to me in China was a significant factor that helped me in every step of the way. I had to study harder, and it wasn’t new to me because I have been doing it back in China. I had to spend long hours making sense of my lessons which are taught in a language that I was not very good at, but I was prepared for the struggles. During these years, I lived in Los Angeles, and I’m glad that my neighborhood was friendly and helpful. It was like I got the same nurturing family that I left in China. Although I regularly talk to my parents and brother who were in China, my social development were significantly impacted by the people who surround me in the U.S. I found good mentors from my high school teachers and college friends, and they were always ready to support me.
Overall, my own social development was shaped by different factors. First, I grew up with nurturing and caring parents. As I witness how they provide for my needs, I learned to be more trusting not just to them but to the other people around me. Their kind of discipline also taught me to be independent and responsible at the same time. Because of this, I became ready to welcome another family member – my brother. The influence of my family is quite significant in developing how I view the world around me. In addition, the Chinese culture I grew up also influenced my social development. Studying hard and pushing one’s self to the limit to reach greater heights has been part of our culture, and I was able to carry this same perspective even after I moved to the United States. In this new place, I saw and experience a different culture. I had to learn a new language and I had to learn how to get along with other people who do not share the same values and beliefs as I have. Along this journey, my family continuously provided their support, both financially and emotionally. At the same time, I gained a new family and friends in the United States in the presence of my teachers and friends. Studying abroad is not easy, but I have been ready for it. All in all, the different factors that influence my life still continue to influence my social development.