BYUH students from different parts of Asia share how love is demonstrated in their homes and communities
Students from various countries shared how their community demonstrate love. Even if all of them come from Asia, they said people’s love languages differ according to their neighborhoods and traditions.
Abhishek Masih, a sophomore from India majoring in exercise and sport science, said the love in their community is shown through sacrifice and charity. “Regardless of all circumstances [my parents] were going through, they never let us feel like we were going through hard times because they were willing to work hard for us,” he said.
He shared the demonstration of love is a principle learned in the gospel but applied at home. He said, “My parents gave up on their needs and wants to prioritize [ours] to make us successful in our lives.”
Masih said the biggest sacrifice he and his family had to make was after his two-year mission in the India Bengaluru Mission. He remembered being home for five months when he decided to come to BYU–Hawaii, which meant he would spend another four years away from his parents. “It was hard for [my parents] because ... they need someone to take care of them. But they decided to prioritize my needs and my future over their [wants],” he said. Masih said this made him feel loved.
As of his community, he said most parents are willing to sacrifice for their children and help each other. Masih recounted his mother helping other women delivering their babies and taking care of them [during their] post- pregnancy. “My mom was there for them when they needed her help, and that’s how women usually help each other, by making each other feel safe and taken care of,” he added.
Hannah Boenari, a junior from the Philippines majoring in biology, said her community, Isabela, and her family show their love through sacrifices, acts of service and quality time. She also described their love as protective, saying, “[My parents] would always want us to be on their side, especially my dad.”
She said in the Philippines it is common for women to leave their families and work
as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and come back later when their children graduate from high school or college. “All of my mom’s sisters, except for one ... were abroad working hard and making sure to send their kids to a good school,” Boenari shared.
When her mother worked as an OFW, Boenari said her dad showed a more protective type of love toward her due to the separation.
Boenari said a lot of the houses in her neighborhood are close together and much of the neighborhood consists of her family on her mother’s side. She continued, “Because they only live a few blocks away, it’s our tradition back home that every Sunday, we’ll meet at our house and eat together.”
Some of the traditions in her community included, “Men [serenading] up to women’s windows. Women had to be Maria Clara [the traditional Filipino feminine ideal], look modest and act kind and composed,” Boenari said. She explained it depends on the region in the Philippines but because things are modern now, women can be bold with dating and only a few men still serenade.
Abiyasa Gathot, a sophomore from Indonesia majoring in hotel tourism and management, said, “Indonesia’s love is shown in four segments: cooking, acts of service, quality time and teaching.”
He shared his grandmother, who lives eight hours away by train from his home, expresses her love through her cooking and food.
He said she once visited him, which did not only surprise him but also touched him by her sacrifice and attention to the foods he likes. “She was carrying 20 kilograms of peanuts on a bus without [air conditioning] because she knew I loved them.” He said it was one of the moments he felt loved.
Luke 6:31, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a principle Gathot said his family and community live by. He said acts of service and quality time are often the same thing. “Back home with my friends, we loved going to the coffee shop or playing games together. Even if you don’t have money, they will invite you just because they love you and they want to spend time with you,” he shared.
Gathot said showing love through teaching consists of words of affirmation, both encouraging talks and honest and forthright conversations. “When you get irritated because your parents talk too much, it actually means that they love you. If they stop talking to you, you really did something wrong,” he said. Gathot shared, “If someone is good at one thing ... and they [people in his family or community] see you passing by, they will teach you [the] skills,” he shared.
Sunny Kwon, a junior from South
Korea majoring in psychology, said words of affirmation and acts of service are the love language of her family and community. She said, “Depending on which area you’re from in South Korea, the affection is different. Since it’s more modern now, people are starting to change a little bit.”
Kwon shared it was only after her mother, her sister and her moved to Utah for educational reasons that her dad, who stayed in Korea, realized the importance of saying “I love you” and showing affection. She said this experience was a constant training for her dad to show love in new ways.
Kwon said she feels the people in the
city of Busan don’t show a lot of outward affection.“[In Busan], they are very loud [and] a little bit rude to each other. But they have so much they are suppressing because they feel embarrassed to show that they like you,” she shared. Kwon said her parents grew up there and people often considered it weak for men to show emotions. She gave an example of how showing affection in Busan can look, saying, “[People] will bring you food or gifts and say they’ve picked it up from the trash the other day because they are embarrassed [by their emotions].”
With the influence of social media and more people visiting South Korea, Kwon said cities in the northern area like Seoul, tend to demonstrate more affection and love.
Phanny Phon, a junior from Cambodia majoring in psychology, described the love in her community as welcoming and friendly. “My community is like a family. Everyone will help and serve each other,” she shared.
Phon recalled her parents showing love by cooking and also sharing it with their neighbors. “[My parents] love sharing food when we have a lot. They ask me to go around the neighborhood and share it,” she said.
In Cambodian culture, Phon said it’s not normal to overtly express love. “They believe if parents show love to their kids, the kids will become spoiled and won’t listen anymore,” Phon said. However, she said in her family, her parents always showed them love, patience and compassion. She explained, “If we did something wrong in front of guests or people, they would wait until they left and talk calmly about things we should do or not.”
Talking about her community, Phon said her hometown, Phnom Penh, Takeo, cultivated stronger relationships between neighbors because their houses were closer together. She said, “[When] something happens to someone, a funeral for example, they will spread the word to everyone, and the whole community will go to the family’s house to help with the preparation. We all know each other.”
Alaia Chen, a sophomore from China majoring in business management, described the love in her family as really private. “We never say ‘I love you’ in my family. We usually just serve each other,” she shared.
Chen said she lived in her neighborhood in China for about six years but didn’t really get to know her neighbors. She explained, “We just say ‘Hi’ to each other but never really talk. We had some activities together and even a group chat, but we don’t actually know each other. Community thing is not big in China.”
Chen said the way parents show love to their children has evolved over the years in her region. “Traditionally, Chinese families usually care about their son more than their [daughter] because sons are the ones who can pass down your genealogy,” she explained. Since everything is more modern now, parents tend to express equal love and affection to every child, she said.
Chen recalled her sick days in boarding school and the care she received from her parents as they picked her up and brought her home. As she studies at BYUH and interacts with people from other countries, she said, “It makes me realize how much my parents have done for me, and it makes me feel really loved.”