Celebrating Agents of Asian Ancestry: Weysan Dun
Weysan Dun shares his past experience as an FBI special agent of Asian ancestry.
My name is Weysan Dun. I was in the FBI from 1982 through 2012. My parents were both from China. I was born in the United States, so Chinese ethnicity, but growing up in rural Midwest America.
I was of the vintage that grew up watching the FBI on television and watching similar shows. It was the reputation of the FBI, the way the FBI was portrayed in the media and in entertainment and in other aspects of popular culture that led me to say, "You know what? I would like to be part of an organization like that."
When I arrived in Omaha, being the new guy in the office, basically, I was assigned to be the domestic terrorism, primary domestic terrorism investigator. Again, it was, nobody really thought anything about it except that he’s the new guy in the office, nobody else wants these cases, we’ll give them to him. The fact of my ethnicity made absolutely no difference and I was glad of that. But the funny thing is, I’m out there investigating these white extremist groups, some of which have a very xenophobic prejudicial philosophy, and I’m out there dealing with them and some friends of mine subsequently have said, "What were they thinking sending you out there alone like that?" But I was just another agent and did what any other agent would do.
The Bureau never treated me any differently, but there were many times when, particularly as I moved into management, where my ethnicity was a real benefit. For example, when I was the SAC in New Jersey, there is a very large Asian community in New Jersey and I was able to develop relationships and expand relationships to levels that they had never been before. And the other interesting thing that I noticed was even with some non-Asian ethnic groups, the fact that I was of some ethnicity other than stereotypical white male, led them I think to be a little more willing to relate to me in a straightforward manner. I think they let down their guard a little bit perhaps.
I think one of the things that having agents of Asian ethnicity helps with is the fact that culturally in some Asian societies, law enforcement was not viewed as a prestigious profession. Of course in the United States, particularly with the FBI it is. But in some Asian countries and some cultures, I know my parents were shocked when I initially told them that’s what I wanted to do. And although they supported me, I could tell they were thinking of all of the careers to choose, this is the one you would want to choose. Because, you know, in their culture it was not viewed as a prestigious job. Of course, once I started achieving some successes, they were very proud of it and very supportive. But I know that there are many Asian cultures and many Asian families where I think a young person interested in a career might be discouraged. So the fact that you have people who are senior agents of Asian ethnicity and who are executives and supervisors and managers, when they see that they say you know what maybe that is a good career and something that my child or my daughter or my son should go into. And it also gives assurance to those candidates—those potentially interested—that there is a place for me in the FBI.
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