Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Winter Olympians of color - American like us -

From Asian American Village Editor Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

During the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, my daughter M and her friend C, the only two Chinese-American girls in Mrs. Schroeder’s first-grade class, were excited about watching Michelle Kwan compete for the gold.

C was planning to invite Michelle to her upcoming 7th birthday party, an ice skating party at Buhr Park. M loved the video clip of Michelle eating dinner with her family—using the same bowls and chopsticks that we did. For them, Michelle was an admired “older sister” that they looked up to. None of the other first-grade girls really knew who Michelle Kwan even was, but after two weeks of hearing about Michelle Kwan every day in class and at soccer, every girl in that class stayed up late that final night of the Olympics to watch Michelle Kwan’s bittersweet final performance.

During those same 2002 Winter Olympics, Apolo Ohno crashed onto the scene with such a flurry of energy and style that we could not help but be transfixed by this hunky hapa “older brother” and the story of his dad’s tough love to keep him out of trouble. We laughed at the images of women fans and even Gov. Gary Locke sporting electrical tape soul patches in his honor. Add on the stories of speedskater Derek Parra who as the first Mexican-American Winter Olympian broke both world and American records, and bobsledder Vonetta Flowers who became the first African American to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, and we were complete converts. (click on link for more)

Winter Olympians of color - American like us -