These Asian Americans know how to put their heads down in quiet determination and plow through adversity to win the world's respect.

n January 9, 2009 begins the Chinese Year of the Ox, the Earth Ox to be precise. Unlike most animals making up the Chinese zodiac, the traits ascribed to ox people do bear some resemblance to those Americans usually associate with that beast. Adjectives like quiet, hardworking, patient, strong, stubborn and methodical apply to those born under the sign of the ox.

     But those stolid traits are only part of the picture. Building on that solid foundation of modesty, diligence and dependibility, ox people often attain an unusually clear picture of the world which, when combined with their aversion to verbosity, add up to eloquence and even prophetic wisdom. When an ox talks, people listen!

     Oxen are also considered outstanding catches as mates. They sacrifice unstintingly to provide safety and abundance for their families. Their biggest drawback as partners come from their intensely independent natures. Their preference for their own counsel over group concensus can cause some to see them as aloof and cold. But give them the space to work things through to their satisfaction and they can show a surprising degree of sociability.

     Perhaps due to their somewhat inner-driven personalities, ox people may occasionally seem conservative, not to say narrow-minded and chauvinistic. But those who come to know them end up admiring them for their straightforward, clear-eyed view of things.

     Generally people born in ox years (1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009) are compatible with snakes, rooster, rats and dogs, but tend to butt heads with rams. Famous oxen include Barack Obama, Saddam Hussein, Margaret Thatcher, Napoleon Bonaparte, Sammy Davis Jr., Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Rosa Parks, Vincent Van Gogh, Heather Locklear, and Jack Nicholson.

     Asian American oxen illustrate the head-down determination of people born under this much-admired sign.

     To baseball fans Mariners' record-setting leadoff batter Ichiro Suzuki is the essence of the swashbuckling swordsman who can seem to take bases at will. What few know is that his virtuosity with a bat is the product of dogged determination in the face two decades of skepticism about his small stature and unorthodox swing.

     Since leaving the round-table gabfest format of The View TV Journalist Lisa Ling has become synonymous with a relentlessly probing, tenacious and daring brand of front-lines investigative journalism. She has shown a knack for choosing thought-provoking subjects in inaccessible places, then skillfully teasing out its secrets.

     During his two terms as governor of Washington State Gary Locke won the respect of voters for quietly taking on the unglamorous task of raising the state's lagging educational standards to one of the nation's highest while cutting governmental waste and, at the same time, balancing the budget.

     The name Vera Wang conjures up society weddings. Hidden from the public view is the decades of painstaking effort at designing wedding dresses that attracted notice not by their flash but by the unassailable logic of their simplicity that spoke to the tastes of sophisticated and accomplished women rather than the stereotype of the blushing child bride.

     One of Hollywood's most remarkable transformations has been accomplished by Actor/Director Joan Chen. In her first incarnation as an actress freshly escaped from China's cultural revoltion, Chen was cast to fit the Hollywood mold of the slutty exotic. In the two decades since, she has quietly shown in gritty roles that her talent transcends her beauty and sex appeal.

     Little about pitcher Chan Ho Park's early career illustrates the ox qualities of quiet determination. Success seemed to come easily to the pioneer from Korea, but the seven seasons since leaving the Dodgers were marred by crushing injuries and failures. Yet somehow in the 13th year of his major-league career Park dug deep and pulled out one more shot at greatness.

“Adjectives like quiet, hardworking, patient, strong, stubborn and methodical apply to those born under the sign of the ox.”


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