Brittanee Okamura, 20’s
Current Role: Medical School Applicant
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Filipino and Japanese.
Tell us about your family story.
Both my parents immigrated to the US and met and got married after meeting in college. I was born in Southern California and I’ve lived here my whole life!
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian American and Filipino/Japanese?
Some strengths of being Asian American are being able to connect to and learn about cultures that are larger than myself. Although some mindsets and practices are antiquated, I think they've still shaped how my family and myself are today.
A challenge that is also a strength would be unpacking my own identity as a Japanese-Filipino-American woman and the complexities that come along with that. Some examples would be maneuvering my way through my relationship with family and the generational gap that is exacerbated by our cultural differences.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment would be how I've learned to change my mindset when I encounter struggles in my life. A couple years ago, I would often break down and not know how to function when I became overwhelmed and even though I'm not perfect still, I try to approach hard times in life as a learning experience and try to take difficulties one step at a time.
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
Looking back, I really can appreciate how hard both my parents tried to break the toxic traits they encountered while growing up. For example, my paternal grandparents were not very affectionate while my dad always tries to make sure my sister and I know how much he loves and cares about us.
My mother’s parents were also extremely conservative and strict while my own mother has been nothing but supportive even when my path in life is not as traditional as most.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
I do not speak my family’s native languages. I took Japanese in college for one semester which really helped build my relationship with my grandmother but I have forgotten most of it since then. My parents both did not speak their respective native language so it was tricky having them try to speak it at home when the other parent couldn’t understand.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
If you have the capacity, take the time to learn from your family. Learn their stories, their recipes, and their outlooks on life. I myself lost the chance to do that with two of my own grandparents before they passed and I regret not challenging myself to try and communicate with them more. Although I know there are many situations that make this impossible for some folks, if there is the possibility to do it, I highly recommend hearing your family's stories!
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
My family, my dogs, walking outside, knowing I have the chance each day to grow as a person.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
Want to share your voice?
To be featured, read the directions and fill out this form. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome.
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