A Letter to my Long-Distance Love, Asia

Fourteen hours away by plane—a whole world away—and yet a world I love to call my own every time I get to return…

I love you, Asia, and all the sights you have to offer. From the smoky fields of Mom’s probinsya town to the bustling back alleys of Bangkok and Tokyo, you always leave me wanting to explore more, to do more, to know more about you.

I love you, Asia, and all the delicious treats that tantalize my senses. I long to hear the sizzle of dakgalbi and ramyun on the cast-iron grill, to slurp on savory laksa as motorbikes whizz past, to snack on chilled red beans and fruits over shaved ice in the hot, humid air.

I love you, Asia, and your mishmash of faces: of gruff businessmen suited on their way to work, of beckoning street vendors inviting me to view their wares, of the madcap cackles of aunties in the morning, midday, or evening. 

I love you, Asia, and your sense of fashion, be it your flashy prints, subtle elegance, or anything in between. Your inspiration elevates me to new heights every time I visit, and I leave with a greater sense of self-confidence every time, brimming with new ideas.

I love you, Asia, and your customs, practices spanning beck eons, making me a proud citizen to partake in honor, respect, and tradition. Regardless of whether it’s bowing deeply at the waist or blessing to “mano po,” we know how to take care of our elders, our family, and everyone around us to make them feel like family.

Like any lover, I know you’re far from perfect: your poverty lines blur even more these days with an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor, haves and have-nots. Your politics aren’t always PC, with leaders who are sometimes (often?) questioned, perceived as dictatorial, seen as unforgiving and selfish, especially when compared to Western values. Your morals, idealized and upheld as hardworking, may also be perceived as harsh, collectivistic to an extreme, unforgiving to those who don’t fit its molds. Your indigenous are often pocketed away, relegated to smaller and tighter corners while mainstream culture seeps in and supersedes. There is plenty to work on, and so much to do, at least in my Western eyes.

Regardless of this Asia, I still love you. You are the ancestral home I wasn’t born in, the place my heart and soul constantly long to come back to. You are the place where I know that even if I can’t speak the language, I at least look like I belong without having to open my mouth and say a word. Thank you for your cities, your counties, your archipelagos. Thank you for being unforgivingly, unabashedly you.

I love you, Asia, and I’ll be back soon.

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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