This article explicates the diversity within the asian american community by focusing on southeast and south asian american students. Focusing on these two groups is important given their recent migration (relative to other groups) and tenuous position within asian american research, discourse, and representation. In particular, this article contends that the image of asian american success masks the contexts – economic, social, and cultural challenges – that mark the educational experiences of many southeast asian and south asian american students. It explores (1) issues of cultural capital; (2) negotiations of identity, gender and generation; and (3) experiences of racism. By highlighting the social and cultural contexts of the education of southeast and south asian students, it reveals the many ways students are learning from the margins and the price of ‘success’ that is often diminished by the image of asian american achievement. 2006 Taylor & francis.