Why Asians Are Smart At School. Or Not So Smart

There’s the stereotype that Asians are smart at school, always doing very well and coming in top of the class. There’s the stereotype that Asians get straight A’s on their exams and are academically gifted.

Not to brag but I was one of these students in high school and university. While doing the O’Levels in Singapore, I brought home trophies for the best student in English across my cohort and getting six distinctions in my final year of schooling there. So I well and truly fit this stereotype.

As we learn and get smarter about life, we feel more confident and let our true selves shine through | Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange.

As we learn and get smarter about life, we feel more confident and let our true selves shine through | Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange.

It’s no secret school is competitive in Asian countries and it’s a race to the top of the class there. In Australia, students with Asian-born parents outperform students with Caucasian-born parents and get honorable mentions in school, doing very well in subjects like Maths, Chemistry and Physics, and English too.

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Two Seconds Of Caucasian Fame

I always found myself in so-called “celebrity famous” situations while growing up as an Asian Australian in Asia. When I was seven, I went to a private primary school in Malaysia. Half of my classmates were Chinese-Malaysian. The other half were Caucasian, their parents expatriates hailing from the States and Australia. Everyone was fluent in English and we all understood one another even though we spoke with different accents.

When there are so many pairs of eyes on you, sometimes you feel famous. But sometimes this is just unwanted attention. Photo: Mabel Kwong

When there are so many pairs of eyes on you, sometimes you feel famous. But sometimes this is just unwanted attention. Photo: Mabel Kwong

I was Miss Popular among my Chinese classmates. Popular not because I had a blemish-free, pale Asian face, the funkiest hair accessories or a Gameboy, or was one of the high achievers in class, but because I was from Australia.

I was popular because I was Australian. Not Chinese-Australian, but just Australian.

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