Parent pride

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 December, 2004, 12:00am

My parents did not go to university. My mother left school before completing Form 7 (academics simply weren't her strong suit) while my father's family couldn't afford to send him to university.

I can write about this now with a touch of pride and a greater appreciation of my parents' incredible achievements and sacrifices, but this wasn't always the case.

In fact, there was a time in secondary school when I was almost ashamed to talk about my family background. A nagging thought at the back of my head told me that I was somehow inferior to my peers - the sons and daughters of doctors, professors, engineers, lawyers and businessmen educated at the likes of Harvard University or the University of Hong Kong.

Occasionally, I would find it difficult to say that one of my uncles drove buses for a living and that an aunt was employed as a cleaning lady.

I'm glad to report that I've grown beyond that - though, even now, there can still be an awkward moment of silence from time to time, especially after a classmate has just told me that his/her relative is on the board of directors of insert-name-of-famous-company-here. You get the point.

Still, getting past this social insecurity is a part of the maturation process and I've come to understand that it doesn't really matter what you do - as long as you do it well and with sincerity. People recognise you for your character and not just the fancy title you have on your resume.

Yes, our society can be very superficial at times. It is easy to get caught up in the pursuit of fame and fortune. But, when you really get down to it, there are many things that matter more.

My parents may not be particularly well-educated in academic terms, but they've passed with flying colours in the non-stop examination we call 'life'.

Perhaps I tease my father about his IT illiteracy or my mother about her inability to understand Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, but I'll be the first to admit (though you'll be hard-pressed to get me to do this again) that they know a lot that I don't. Perhaps they still haven't achieved their greatest dreams, but they've already come so far.

So I guess what I'd really like to say is that I'm proud of them. Just don't expect this to be an advantage in cases of parent-child disputes.

Ms Yeung is a student at the University of Pennsylvania