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A New Identity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


   Thetender dumpling plunged into a sea of soy sauce ringed with sesame oil, thenentered the abyss of my mouth. Chopsticks clicked and gossip hummed around thetable, and in the family room, the television reported stock market results toempty bamboo chairs bathing in the waning twilight. Eleven stories below, thestreets were spotted with yellow taxi cabs and twinkling lights as traffic snakedalong with a dull roar.

In my grandmother's apartment in Taipei, myfamily sat at the dinner table and devoured the steaming homemade delicacies. Oneby one, the dumplings disappeared, leaving only one treasure when all our plateswere bare: the unity of our common culture.

Before my most recent trip toTaiwan last December, I had traveled there twice. There was nothing so differentthis time; my five aunts were still just as munificent, and my grandmother asspirited and energetic as ever. This time, however, there was somethingintangible present in the aura of the foreign land, something I had not noticedduring my earlier visits. It was the connection I felt with my Chinese side, apart of me I had carelessly tossed into the back of my mind, hoping it woulddisappear. Before, being Chinese was something as simple as unsuccessfully tryingto eat every food with chopsticks. It was going to Chinese school on Saturdaysand scribbling silly pictures in the textbook, hoping that the teacher would notcatch me. It was mocking the strangely dressed people on Mandarin soap operas. Itwas eating gluttonously every Chinese holiday instead of paying attention to thevalues.

Chinese ideals were just a weak influence in my life, anembarrassment and a burden. I did not want to accept myself as Chinese-American;I wished instead to fit into the insipid "melting pot" ofAmerica.

When I returned home again, I guiltily acknowledged my ignoranceand naivete, for I had learned the true meaning of being Chinese from my familyin Taipei. I finally realized that being Chinese is a part of my identity withits own set of ideals and unchangeable truths.

I understand now why it isimperative that I pay attention in Chinese school, and I should learn about myhistoric background and delve further into my second native culture. Furthermore,this discovery has filled the painful emptiness I felt from not knowing my ownidentity. No longer must I push away my ethnicity in humiliation when itsurfaces, such as when my grandmother attempts to speak her choppy rendition ofEnglish to my friends. Instead, I am proud of my culture, for it has molded meinto a unique individual with my combination of American and Chinesevalues.

I have saved myself from the melting pot of commonplace views, forliving in America will never change my cultural background. I look forward to afuture with more influence from both my homeland, America, and my newfoundChinese roots. As others discover their ethnic background, they will also learnthe value and significance of cherishing their culture. Together, our blend ofethics and traditions will further enhance the uniqueness and individuality ofAmerica.






Haiti by Candice J., Hatfield, PA

Road Trip by Brian H., Benton, AR

Hometown Proud by Jill P., Chesterland, OH

I'm from...(Based on a model by George Ella Lyon) by Olivia S., Denver, CO

The Picture by Rachel Y., Lansdale, PA









   


By Tina W.,
Fresh Meadows, NY



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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the June 2002 Teen Ink Travel Contest.






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