Rising Star: Victoria Lam as a proponent for identity discovery

asianave December 8, 2012 Comments Off

By: Allison Riley, Asian Avenue magazine

The underlying conflict of being Asian American involves “switching” between multiple identities, as described by Victoria Lam. A second-year International Business student at University of Denver, Lam experienced this struggle growing up. “I didn’t understand why I had to attend ESL classes in the second grade and I definitely didn’t understand the concept of cultural differences,” she said. “I just knew that I was different and I didn’t feel as cool as everybody else.”

At home, Lam’s parents only allowed her to speak Chinese. She attended Chinese school, watched Hong Kong dramas, and ate Chinese and Vietnamese food. “It was like had a subconscious switch that knew exactly when I should turn on and off my Chinese heritage,” she said.

Lam continued to be American at school and Chinese at home, until her relationships at Grandview high school led her to a more mixed understanding. “I realized that hey, you know, I’m not exactly American nor am I completely culturally Chinese either.”

Perhaps it was then that Lam unveiled the secret to identity discovery—peer relationships.

Now the secretary for DU’s Asian Student Alliance (ASA), Lam expresses gratitude for the group’s mentorship program, A-Crew, which exposed genuine leadership to her.

“I want to be there for another first-year that needs the guidance that I did,” she said.

Lam is also an event coordinator for the Summer Link program with the Volunteers in Partnership and a peer leader for the Excelling Leaders Program. Outside of school, she is a counselor for the Colorado Asian Pacific Youth Association (CAPYA). She believes identity struggle poses the greatest challenge for APA students and wants to be a strong leader for those in CAPYA’s leadership program. In high school, Lam had a unique bond with passionate student leaders and thus takes on a similar role in CAPYA. “We try to show them what it means to be a leader and just how special it is to have this kind of developmental help at this age,” she said.

In the future, Lam sees herself building strong relationships and working professionally with APA students, continuing to legitimize their experiences.

“Sometimes the high school environment may not be the most accepting, but you are not alone. Many, many other APA students are working towards the same goal—to make an impact in their community. Although it may be hard, your hard work and effort will be felt. Don’t give up!”


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