Lost in Translation | Teen Ink

Lost in Translation MAG

August 6, 2010
By PenguinFeet GOLD, Bellevue, Washington
PenguinFeet GOLD, Bellevue, Washington
19 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Yeah, well, who but the mad would choose to keep on living? In the end, aren't we all just a little crazy?" - Dulcie, in Libba Bray's Going Bovine

My family is Chinese. Anyone can tell by our straight black hair, brown eyes that minimize when we smile, and my parents' insistence that their kids grow up to be prodigies and/or doctors. Also, we buy out the entire rice section if rice is ever on sale. We are not out of the ordinary.

Right now, the TV is tuned to the local news channel, and we are talking about how to sound more American. My sister and I have no problem with this, having been surrounded by English speakers for years. Mom doesn't have a big problem with English because she attended a British school in Hong Kong.

Dad is the exception. Raised in rural China until he went to college in Canada, he picked up English from friends and teachers. Regardless, he is sure that he is more American than us. The conversation turns to future vacation plans, but he's clearly still thinking about the previous topic.

Dad: “Do you know how close is Connecticut and Boston?”

“You mean, Do you know how close Connecticut and Boston are in relation to each other?” I correct him. “Very far apart?”

“No! From Connecticut to Boston you could throw stones.”

“You mean a stone's throw. Connecticut is a stone's throw from Boston.”

“Yes, throwing stones. So after we visit Yale in Connecticut we'll go to Canada.”

“Wait, what about the other colleges on the East Coast? Like NYU.”

“No! You have to go to an Ivy League. If you graduate from Yale, every other university will accept you with two arms!”

“Open arms.”

“Yes, both of the arms. Go to an Ivy League.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“Then we will go to New York and New Jersey.”

“Why didn't we live on the East Coast? Then we wouldn't have to worry so much about this trip. Heck, why didn't we live in Canada? Then I wouldn't worry so much about Harvard.”

“Well, there's no use crying while spilling milk.”

“Wait, what?”

“So what my plan is that I plan that we visit New York, New Jersey, go to Canada and see McGill, UT, McMaster, Queens, maybe Waterloo.”

“What about Washington, D.C.? Aren't we going there?”

“Shh! Hold my horse, I'm not finished telling about my plan yet!”

“Dad, it's … well, go on.”

“And then we'll come southwards and through Niagara Falls.”

“Through the Falls? Wait, can I ride a barrel down the waterfall this time?”

“You really want to do that? No, you must be, you know, trying to pushing at my leg.”

“Pulling my leg, Dad.”

“Who is?”

“All right, so after Niagara Falls?”

“We can visit Auntie May and Uncle Gary while we're helping Jensen look at colleges in Canada, so Mom is happy and you can be happy too.”


“Yes, like killing two birds with one hand.”

“Dad, one stone. You kill two birds with one stone.”

“Why use a stone? I have strong hands.”

“Never mind.”

The author's comments:
Hopefully, you'll understand that this isn't a commentary about Chinese people, but rather a loving recollection of my dad's efforts to cross the cultural tightrope between China and America.

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This article has 3 comments.

on Jun. 6 2012 at 11:19 pm
Don't you recognize that it's the best time to receive the personal loans, which would make you dreams real.

on Apr. 29 2011 at 10:02 pm
WritingSpasms, Los Angeles, California
0 articles 0 photos 121 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Devils run when a good man goes to war."
- River Song from Doctor Who (Ep. A Good Man Goes to War)

Yes! You have visualized the same situation I go through with my parents in nearly every single family lecture. The piece is also brilliantly written.

on Mar. 18 2011 at 3:06 pm
awesomeaugust GOLD, Boston, Massachusetts
10 articles 0 photos 176 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground"
~Theordore Roosevelt

l love it! A piece can go completely opposite ways depending on the tone that the author gives it. I felt an endearing, loving tone towards your dad, even in the stress of planning college vists (and to ivy leages, no less!) really great job