Growing up, I used to steal my dad’s National Geographic magazines and hop on my bed and day dream (they should have known better). There was something more out there, and I was hungry for it. It was no surprise that I sought everything different after that. I wanted pho for dinner, to appreciate Chinese music, to fall in love with Dostoevsky and Austen. I was weary even then, of people who saw life through binaries, through the lens of “what should be” and worse, “the right way to live”. Although I could not find the words for it, all I saw was fear in the faces of those who proclaimed they had “figured it out”.
As the daughter of immigrants, I always felt “in between two worlds, two cultures”, to paraphrase Edward Said. There came the tough internal questions, assimilation, questions of who I was proud to be and who I was. It was tough, and at times, very ugly (more on that later). Academics helped keep me occupied for most of my childhood and adolescence (heck, even now). I pursued an international advanced high school program (International Baccalaureate), and was annoyingly nihilistic, questioning, and concurrently, a people pleaser. I made bad jokes and cringe inducing comments (as everyone should always say, if you knew me in high school, I apologize). Still, I wanted people to have a conversation, to reach for something more.
All this meant I should study something that connected these worlds within worlds, and so I did. I began my Bachelor of Arts at Drew University, transferred to the University of North Texas, and encountered one of the biggest shocks to my life philosophy of passive happiness- a mormon boy. I believe we were simultaneously, each other’s hell, and exactly what we needed. Two years and a heartbreak later, I was finished with my B.A., and onto my Master’s at the University of St Andrews.
Not to be overly dramatic, but this is when I came alive. By which I mean to say, I was more the person I wanted to be. I accepted my flaws as my soul grew, and I got to drink delicious ciders while I was at it. My mind was full of Foucault and Critical Discourse, violence and wars, what it means to be a Person of Color with privilege, who I wanted to be (a latina with class, thank you) and where I didn’t want to go (anywhere but Texas). Guys, Texas can be very hard when you are all of the above. Sure, you have a rich heritage and great food but if you are a certain type of person… well, you have a lot of headaches.
Where was I going? Lebanon? China? (Possibly, but my Chinese is sub par). In a sudden twist (cue puke inducing romance music), I fell in love, and without a sense of attachment to a certain place, he swept me off my feet (in a feminist way ofc), and off to… Germany!
I am now on my second Master’s (in East Asian studies), bettering my crappy Chinese, learning German, and assisting on projects involving migration and gender. I grow more nostalgic and appreciative of where I come from, cooking tortillas in my very German kitchen, and would love to share my thoughts with you all 🙂 (I should say y’all for kicks, but nah)
And that is a little slice of me!