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Family
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North America
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Migration, San Francisco, Tradition, Culture, China
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Like many Asian immigrant women, Lily Chen's life consists of two cultures. Though she is raised by traditional Chinese parents, Lily, 17, is also heavily influenced by the American environment outside of her home in San Francisco, California.
Shelley Eades

1994 — student award of excellence

Like many Asian immigrant women, Lily Chen's life consists of two cultures. Though she is raised by traditional Chinese parents, Lily, 17, is also heavily influenced by the American environment outside of her home in San Francisco, California. Lily's family immigrated to California from China ten years ago.

As she gets older, the cultural gap between Lily and her parents widens. Lily's life at Mission High School in San Francisco is much like any other American teenager. But this lifestyle is something she keeps from her parents who do not condone it. Though her parents have made it clear that she is not allowed to date, she has been dating for over a year now. This is one of the many examples of how Lily deals with the colliding ideas between two cultural influences.

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Although Lily's parents have told her they will not permit her to date until she is in her mid-20s, Lily disregards their rules and finds time after school to spend with her boyfriend, Sergio. Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation
Lily Chen, 17, spends a Sunday afternoon with friends at a barbecue in the park at a birthday party. Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation
At Mission High School in San Francisco, Lily's education includes subjects like the liberation of women, which is a contrast to her home life where her parents plan to help choose a suitable husband and career for her. Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation
Lily, who moved to California from China with her family ten years ago, remembers very little about what it was like to live there. Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation
Lily has let go of some of the Chinese traditions that her parents hold on to, like using a fork rather than chopsticks for meals. Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation
Because Lily has adapted to so many aspects of American culture, there is a communication gap between Lily and her parents who she labels as "too traditional." Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation
Though Lily's mother has a great deal of respect for her parents, which is a common Chinese tradition, the offerings of fruit and incense below the images of her ancestors don't mean much to Lily. Shelley Eades/Alexia Foundation