So this is 40. It’s hard to believe, but the International Examiner, and myself, are both turning 40 this year. The big 4-0 comes with mixed feelings, one being: “Wow, I am turning 40!” And the other being: “Ugh, I am turning 40?!”
The first thing that comes to mind when one turns 40 is that it’s midlife crisis time. Elliott Jacques coined the term “midlife” in 1965 as a time when adults came to realize their own mortality and how much time is left in their life, according to our trusty Wikipedia resource. It’s a time of reflecting back on our achievements during our 30s of building relationships, making families, and establishing careers. We worked through our identity issues of figuring out who we were and we became responsible for building the lives we wanted as adults.
Looking back as editor of the IE during its 30s, I recall the challenges I had trying to delicately move the IE’s identity from grassroots activism to transforming it to reflect the newer generation who didn’t necessarily care about what those activists had done to build the community services and equal opportunities that were now available from the fruits of their labor. As a Seattle transplant, I was not raised with the consciousness of the International District activists—I had to learn about it and get ingrained in the mindset of the ongoing work that had been done and still needed to be done in our communities. I saw the IE’s 30s as a time to keep the activism alive while bridging the gap with the newer generation.
For me personally, my 30s were an incredible time of many ups and many downs. I had my dream job as editor of the IE, which melded my passions of fundraising, community work, and writing. I got married to who I thought was the man of my dreams and faced my worst nightmare of divorce. I got over my personal identity crisis as an Asian American and I began my existential crisis of finding my true Self. With a new focus on my spiritual journey, I also found my second career as a drug counselor. Similar to journalism, I found another outlet for being nosy into people’s lives.
On the cusp of turning 40, with a better understanding about ourselves and the people around us, have we finally found ourselves? Toward the end of our 30s, we thought we had it all figured out, only to find out in our 40s that perhaps we didn’t really know who we were or what we wanted. Moving into the next phase of our lives, we ask the question, “Now what?”
The question of where do we go from here is a great one with no easy answer. This is a time to look at how the IE can avoid stagnation and continue to grow. It’s a time to ask how can the IE impact the next generation on a deeper and more profound level.
Living in south Florida for the past three and a half years, I realize how good I had it living in Seattle where multiculturalism is a way of life, so much so that one can take that for granted while living there. The IE can be a major force to help solidify and disseminate the values of a truly multicultural society, where having the first Asian-American/Latina, openly gay member as part of the state’s highest court is just another day among many days of acceptance and celebration of the diversity of others.
The IE can use its solid foundation in Seattle’s community coupled with today’s power of social media to make impacts across other neighborhoods around the country and even other countries. It would be fascinating to get a glimpse of the lives of other Asian Americans outside of Seattle and see how their communities are moving toward or moving away from embracing multiculturalism.
Looking back at the IE’s achievements over the past four decades, all the contributors to the newspaper and the community members that read and supported it have a lot to be proud of. Starting off in 1974 as a four-page newspaper with the slogan, “The Heartbeat of the International District,” no one would have predicted that the IE would still be running strong in 2014 with a new slogan reflecting the newer generation, “Find Your InspirAsian.” Let’s truly find our inspirAsian and take the IE into its fifties.
Nhien Nguyen (aka Sachi Ananda) was editor of the International Examiner from May 2002 to April 2008. She is currently a drug counselor working towards her master’s degree in mental health counseling. She lives in sunny South Florida, and yes, there are days she misses the rainy days of the Pacific Northwest.