La Cañada High School (LCHS) has a high population of immigrants from Korea, and most grades have at least one Korean immigrant. The sophomore class seems to have the most students who have recently moved from Korea, with at least five. Although the number seems small, it represents a substantial amount of the pool of students of Korean ethnicity per grade.
One might think the immigrants and the Korean students born or raised in America would get along, but that is not always the case. Immigrant students are not getting bullied because of their accents or their academic struggles, but some of the Korean American students do find the recent immigrants to be annoying and naggy.
Some of the immigrants, confused and stressed in their new environment, speak excitedly in Korean to Korean American students. They’re often asking for help because they do not understand the material in class.
In the sophomore class, the helpfulness of the Korean Americans varies depending on gender. Male students told JSR that they tend to not know enough Korean to understand, with one student even ignoring an immigrant student’s plea for help for math. The female Korean American students, who are more often asked for help by the five female immigrants, often speak in somewhat-fluent Korean and help them.
Female students also tended to engage in conversation with the immigrant students occasionally, speaking in a mix of Korean and English. It should be noted that all of the Korean students in the sophomore class are girls.
Yet one Korean American girl, who asked to be kept anonymous in order to speak freely without fear of reprisal, told JSR, “One of [the immigrant students] goes to my church. Our moms were talking all excitedly to each other in Korean, and I ended up having a ‘study session’ [for an AP class] with [the student] every week. But if it’s a study session, we should be helping each other out, right?”
“But no,” she concluded. “It’s mostly me just telling her the material because she doesn’t understand!”
Another student told JSR, “[In the US,] it seems that we have this culture where we don’t like to really bother anyone [who isn’t a] really good friend.”
One flaw of the immigrant students, though, is that they do not seem to be willing to adapt to their new culture, as they mingle with other immigrant students and speak in Korean rather than English. Interestingly enough, the Korean girls of the sophomore class sit in a lunch group that is separate from the Korean American students. By staying in their little bubble of immigrants, they rarely expose themselves to their new surroundings.
It seems that the conflict between the two is based on faults from both parties, with Korean Americans failing to accept the new students and the immigrants failing to adapt fully to their new country.