A Sailor Proud Of Her Culture
Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bayley McMichael, USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs.
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Recent news coverage has highlighted a rise in hate crimes in the United States and anti-Asian hate crimes have seen an increase since last spring, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Yanhui Chen remembers when she found out about the Asian hate on the news.
“It was very upsetting when I first heard about it I couldn’t believe it,” Chen said.
Chen has been in the Navy for more than five years, and her time in the Navy has not mirrored life on the outside.
“I have never heard any cruel remarks during my time on the ship. The teamwork we show here is great, and I think that is crucial in maintaining respect for our shipmates,” Chen said.
Originally born in China, Chen moved to California when she was 16 years old. She graduated from high school and decided that she wasn’t ready for college quite yet.
“I decided to join the Navy after realizing I wanted a break from school,” Chen said.
The Navy’s boot camp is a culture shock for every recruit, but Chen had more struggles than most. She was learning to speak English, so she stayed quiet most of her time there.
“I had only been living in America for four years prior, so I had to learn as I went along. It didn’t help that I didn’t know anyone who had been in the military either,” Chen said.
After boot camp and A-school, Chen came straight to the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77). For the past four years, she has grown and improved a lot.
“I have gained so much confidence since being here. I’m happy with how far I have come,” Chen said.
She now works as a leader for younger Sailors in the Engineering Department. Although she admits it is stressful being a leader, she knows it is all worth it.
“When I see new Sailors first come onto the ship as a Fireman and then see the progress to where they are now, I feel like my hard work has paid off,” Chen said.
Although the Navy has changed a lot of Chen’s life, she still keeps her culture and traditions close. She mentioned that the most important holiday in her culture is the Chinese New Year.
“Even though my family is back home in California, I still decorate and celebrate with friends every year,” Chen said.
Chinese New Year is a way to bring all the important people in your life together to celebrate a successful year. Chen knows she will always keep her Chinese heritage a big part of her life.
“Celebrating my culture is a way to stay close and connected to my family, even if they are across the country,” Chen said.
With everything occurring in the world today, Chen is glad that she has supportive shipmates all around her that makes her happy to come to work every day.
“The Sailors here is what makes the ship a great place to work,” Chen said.
GHWB is persistent in making the ship a safe and supportive place for all Sailors. She is also thankful for what the Navy has done to keep equal opportunity a top priority. Chen believes that maintaining a zero-tolerance policy to hate of any kind is vital to the success of the mission.