Luckily, today's post is a real treat! We're hosting freelance writer and YA/MG writer, Caroline Tung Richmond! We hit it off over Twitter and Pinterest (I don't even remember how), and she very graciously agreed to writing a guest post for us in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
|Caroline wearing her brother's hat from his traditional outfit.|
Take it away, Caroline!
(All photos courtesy of Caroline)
I hate to admit it but....
I haven't always been proud of my Chinese heritage.
Growing up, I wanted to be just like my friends, most of whom were white. I wanted long blond hair with freckles to match, like the most popular girls in school. I wanted to eat roast beef for dinner instead of steamed eggs over rice. And I wanted to have a "normal" last name like Jones or Carter instead of Tung, which no one could pronounce the first time around.
I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be Chinese.
During my junior year in college, however, something inside of me shifted. Maybe it was because I was a little older. Or maybe it was because I felt more comfortable in my skin. Whatever it was, I started dipping my toes in my ethnicity. I signed up for Asian history classes and I took three semesters of Chinese language. After graduation, I was even lucky enough to take a week-long trip to Beijing. I had come a long way from the little girl who wanted blue eyes and a different last name. And yet...
I felt like I was missing the last puzzle piece.
Which was odd to me. After all, I had studied Chinese and I had visited China, where all four of my grandparents had hailed from. What else did I have to do to feel fully connected to my heritage?
|Xiao Long Bao - soup-filled dumplings|
But after we spent our first full day in Taiwan, something simply clicked in my mind. Maybe it was visiting my grandfather's grave, who died before I was born. Or maybe it was touring my parent's alma mater. Or maybe it was as simple as eating a big bowl of noodle soup and thinking it was so much better than roast beef. Whatever it was---and as cliche as it sounds---I felt like I had come home. That sense of belonging I was searching for as a kid? It was here in Taiwan. This was the place where my parents had grown up. This was the place where my family was buried. And this was the place that had helped define who I was, even though I had never stepped foot in it until now.
|Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial|
Although I can do without the spiders!
|No pics of giant spiders, but here is a size-of-my-hand snail!|
You can find Caroline online at:
Blog: Adventures in Space
Website: Caroline T Richmond