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Bridge For My Two Identities- Justin '21 of Suwanne, GA

Updated: May 24, 2021

Sol Ahn ‘19 and Jay Kim ‘19 are the people who inspired me to be proud of the color of my skin while pursuing my individuality. Growing up in a fairly homogenous setting, I was always one of the few Asian kids in my grade. Through elementary and middle school, I was constantly surrounded by stereotypes. These comments constantly made me anxious about my Asian heritage and made me want to assimilate in the hopes of disguising myself with the rest.

When I came to Episcopal, however, a lot of Asian upperclassmen exuded the confidence and amiability that I have never seen. It was always either the confident, whitewashed Asian or the nice and socially awkward Asian-- just like the stereotypes. Sol Ahn was a charismatic and trustworthy leader. She was a Monitor and a cheerleader which was just shocking to me, for Asians were not a common face in that group. She had the extroverted quality that made her known, but she was always true to her identity and was proud of it.

Coming in from a public school setting, it seemed like everyone’s activities and interests were all in the same category. It’s either they played a sport, an instrument, studied, or did nothing because everyone was afraid of being judged. Jay Kim was like the jack of all trades. He was a leader, a Varsity Wrestler, a literary enthusiast, and obviously a very well-liked member of the community. Jay was the person who wasn’t afraid to wrestle anyone, start a new table in the dining hall, or attend a Daemon meeting (because it’s so nerdy). His willingness to pursue all the variety that Episcopal had to offer motivated me to do the same. Sol and Jay embodied their passions and were far opposites from the Asian stereotypes that haunted me. The leadership and confidence they demonstrated inspired me to walk in their path, so I could become that type of leader to the future classes in which I hoped to lead.

I realized that I haven’t changed fundamentally but simply just embraced varying perspectives. I realized my extracurriculars and activities did not have to coincide with the label that was placed by society. I replaced my foggy lens that could never blend Korean and American with new ones that liberated the unique details of myself that I never obsessed over. The disparate hobbies that constitute my life served as a bridge for my two identities to coexist.

Justin Episcopal '21

Suwanne, GA

United States Military Academy '25

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