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Laura Lee, 16



Growing up in a third-generation Korean-American household, I have never felt that I completely belonged to either culture. My family is what is defined by many as "Americanized" which refers to the extent to which someone has assimilated into typical American culture. However, while we are "americanized," we still retain certain aspects of our Korean identities which set us aside from the rest of the Western world. The most common dinner in my house is spaghetti and meatballs, which we serve using chopsticks simply out of convenience. Neither I nor my sisters can speak Korean, only the occasional food name or family title.

When I was little, I always felt a bit distanced from my white friends; I would stand out in photos, being the only girl with jet black hair. I would bring snacks from HMart to school and they would bring goldfish. While we liked the same games and the same music, I felt that there was something that separated us.

As I got older, I befriended more Korean-Americans. They would joke around with each other in Korean and knew the best places around town for KBBQ. I had never even tried korean barbecue before and I couldn't understand Korean, and while I was thrilled to have friends that looked like me and ate some of the same snacks as me, I couldn't help but still feel like I was still missing out. I realized then that I was not a part of either culture. I was a part of something unique.

The culture that I grew up in can best be described as "in-between." In this piece, I wanted to capture that unusual balance of western and Korean influence that permeates my life. My sister loves Cheetos, but hates getting her fingers dirty, so she can often be found eating the chips with chopsticks. It is in moments like these where I appreciate the nuanced aspects of my life that define my cultural identity as a Korean-American.

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