Philly Student Stories: "Rob"
by Sarah Peterson
“Rob” (not his real name) fits the label of “immigrant student,” but he has spent almost his whole life in the United States. He came here with his family from China, just outside of Hong Kong, when he was three months old. He is now a citizen, as are his parents. Rob is 18 and a senior at Swenson Arts and Technology High School. This summer, he was working on a video production as a participant in a youth leadership program in South Philadelphia run by a community organization, the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC). Rob was only comfortable sharing his thoughts about immigration issues if he could remain anonymous. Rob said he worries about people who can’t attend college – “Everybody should go to college.” His own personal goal is to study information technology at Central Pennsylvania College or at Temple. In high school, Rob does most of the work of translating school information for his parents. He’s not aware of there being much translation help at his school. He said that could be because not many Chinese people live in that part of Northeast Philadelphia. Asked what challenges face immigrant communities, he pointed to many forms of racism and prejudice. “People mock your language,” he said. Rob noted that even celebrities who are members of minority groups are often victims of mockery or ridicule – Jackie Chan, for example. It also bothers Rob that many people seem to think that all Asians are “Chinese.” “They should learn to tell the difference,” he said.