A space where everyone can belong

Bilin Su on her wedding day.

Bilin Su (center) on her wedding day.

By Adobe Life Team

Posted on 05-28-2021

In recognition of Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, Adobe is sharing perspectives from the Asian/Pacific Islander (API) community through the theme: Rising Together, to address how we can support, equip, and empower each other.

As far back as she can remember, Bilin Su aspired to live in the United States. America seemed like a place where everyone could be themselves and all cultures could be embraced, and Bilin yearned to find a place where she could express her creativity and authentic self.

With the support of her parents, she learned English and moved to the US where she has been pursuing the American Dream: She studied and earned 3 undergraduate degrees, married her husband, and found a fulfilling job at Adobe. However, in recent years that dream has been challenged. Oppression and violence against the API community has risen, leaving Bilin again feeling like she’s not fully welcome in the country she has dreamed of.

In the story she shared during the internal kickoff event for Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Bilin discussed immigrating to the United States, how counseling has helped her navigate her experiences, and why she believes there’s hope for the future.

We talked to Bilin to learn more about her story and what each person can do to help support those struggling with recent events to feel as though they belong.

Why did you aspire to move to the US?

There was a part of me when I was growing up that always longed for diversity. I love China and its culture, and I’m beyond proud to share the Chinese heritage. At the same time, I aspired to see the world, to be somewhere with various amazing cultures, where diversity is embraced; that really appealed to me.

When I was young, I’d watch a series called Family Album USA to help me learn English, which I’ve always thought is a really pretty language. It featured a family in the New York area, and it painted a picture of New York, the Statue of Liberty, USA — it seemed like such a cool place to be.

Have your experiences changed how you feel about the US since you first came here?

It’s one thing to have a dream, it’s been another ride to see it through. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to make my life in America, while also seeing my hard work earn me a successful future. I’ve been able to find a community here, not only of immigrants striving to improve their lives, but also many Americans who have welcomed me openly. I fell in love here and married my husband, I’ve found friends who have supported me more than I knew how to, and I’ve put so much into finding and thriving in a career which prioritizes diversity and inclusion. This has been a dream come true and I’m so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish so far.

In the past year or so, however, I’ve struggled by seeing my dreams and safety challenged based on my heritage. I have always believed this is where I’m meant to be. So it’s hard to have to question your own belief, thinking that you or your community is not welcome or supported in a place you’d like to call home.

Why do you feel that way?

I want to build my own family here, where I can embrace not only my Chinese heritage but also my American culture. I want my parents to be able to spend time here, but I see stories of violence against people of Asian heritage, against elders especially, and I’m scared. I don’t want to put my parents in that situation, I don’t want lose out on spending time with my parents, and for them to not be able to spend time with my future kids because of this type of fear and anxiety. I’m frustrated that the contract America offers, the pursuit of happiness, is being challenged not because of my merits, but because of immutable attributes: my race, my skin color, and where I was born.

How did counseling help you navigate these feelings?

It’s helped me to be more patient with myself and learn to cope with stress. I’ve learned how to be more productive with those feelings instead of just getting scared or angry or upset and saying, “I hate this” or “this is bad.” Of course, venting can be healthy and helpful, but it’s also important to experience those uncomfortable feelings, observe how your body and mind feel coping with these feelings, and learn from this experience. Even though many are reluctant to try therapy, I think others could benefit from this skill that we might not have had modeled for us growing up.

Why do you think there is reluctance to get counseling?

A lot of people in my community, myself included, were taught not to pay attention to negative feelings, that they’re for “weak” people. We’re told we should focus on school or work and not these other things that just get in the way of being a champion.

I think it takes courage to actually feel those emotions and embrace them. It might be overwhelming, but you can learn how to use that productively. Even if you can’t “fix” things, you can learn to have compassion for yourself and reduce the suffering of unresolved traumas. If you can make yourself sit with a feeling, you can figure it out and build resilience so you’re stronger the next time you have that same emotion.

How does that connect to your vision of the community coming together?

It’s about building the community up with that resilience. There will continue to be ups and downs as we make progress and have our voices heard. As we push forward, we need to each prioritize self-care and first check in with ourselves to make sure we can provide space for others with compassion and sensitivity. You can only control what you do, and in time how we respond to the actions of others. We can first understand that we have nothing to be ashamed of; we all have beautiful cultures and heritage.

Allies can help by acknowledging our experiences and understanding that just because you haven’t seen or experienced what we have, that doesn’t make it any less true. We are all looking for the same thing, to feel heard, included, and validated.

We have a long way to go, but if we speak up, we can make this truly a melting pot of cultures and a place where we can all feel appreciated and be ourselves.

Topics: #AdobeForAll, Brand, Adobe Life, Adobe Culture, Responsibility, Diversity & Inclusion