SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Young immigrants often feel as though they are stuck between two worlds as they try to balance cultural expectations from family with the need to fit in with friends. Warren Situ has faced this struggle, embraced it and is now using it a way to serve others.
On a recent weekend morning, Situ led around a dozen San Francisco high school students as they worked to clear overgrown vegetation at McLaren Park. The effort was part of an internship project for the non-profit Enterprise for Youth.READ MORE: UPDATE: Alameda County Omicron Variant Outbreak Victims Attended Wisconsin Wedding Last Weekend
Situ, a program associate says participants gain valuable job skills, a sense of community and self-reflection that can lead to some very thoughtful questions.
“What are the communities that I am really involved with?” asked Situ. “And where are the places where I feel naturally like I have a place and I can appreciate what others do around me?”
Those are questions the 23-year-old Carleton College graduate has posed to himself too, as a young adult struggling to find his own way far from where he started in life.
When Situ was just five years old, he immigrated to the U.S from China. He arrived in the Bay Area with an unusual expectation.
“I remember getting off the plane and getting picked up by my aunt and my cousin,” recalled Situ. “I was really ecstatic because I was like, ‘I can finally see snow in America!’ And my cousin says, ‘Actually, there is no snow in the Bay Area.’ And I was like, ‘Oh. That is slightly disappointing.'”
Situ did not see snow, but he had other discoveries ahead. Video games he played with neighborhood children offered a quick glimpse into his new life in America.READ MORE: Porsche Theft Suspect Arrested On Docked Cruise Ship; Three Illegal Bay Area Chop Shops Busted
“Like, they have their own PS2 in their own house?” explained Situ. “I mean, that has got to be something; that is the classic American dream right there.”
Gaming soon became a stress relief for Situ, then a young man trying to fit in at school and at home.
“Growing up in my family, in my version of what is Asian culture, you grew up trying to be the kid who’s not troublesome,” said Situ. “The kid who just succeeds in school and does what the parents need.”
Situ’s need to please others changed as he entered college.
“I became a little bit more self-aware of that [need to please],” said Situ. “Because in college you are really encouraged to think about your own interests and you own goals. What do I want? Where am I the most happy?”
Situ’s found that happiness by learning to be a leader on his own terms. At Enterprise For Youth, he helps facilitate multiple programs which serve around 50 participants, all looking to Situ as a role model. It’s a job Situ finds meaningful.MORE NEWS: One-In-Four Sonoma County Children Ages 5-To-11 Partially Vaccinated Against COVID
“I should look for things that mean something to me,” said Situ of his employment decision. “And this is where I know I could be valuable and do meaningful work.”