Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer's lessons

I realized very quickly, after arriving in Taiwan (and particularly Taipei), that I would be learning much more than the Mandarin classes I would be taking at NTNU. When I came for family reunions the summers I turned 12 and 13, it was all about adventure and sightseeing and eating and tours and traveling and experiencing the enormous entity that is my mother's family.

This time, I am returning as a misplaced offspring of this land and culture. I feel like a Westerner, as foreign as the Caucasian, African, and Hispanic people I've seen on this island. And, really, it's because I am an American first, Taiwanese second. I am sure I am not the only first-generation American with immigrated parents who has been through this conflict of culture and identity.

So, each day that I familiarize myself with a heritage that I feel so little connection with, I find myself beginning to understand my family, my childhood, and, most importantly, my mother, in a new light. Things that had caused the two of us, my mother and I, so much friction before seem easier to comprehend and dissect. Whereas we lacked communication, I have opened dialogues with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Perhaps my stay here will prove empowering, in more ways than I had considered. I wonder if I will still consider myself one of the Westerners by the end of the summer.

No comments: