First/Second Generation: Growing Up Taiwanese-American
He was born in NYC — his mom in Taiwan. This is the first and second generation immigrant experience.
Children of immigrants
- What was growing up Taiwanese-American like?
I grew up in a town in New Jersey, predominantly Italian American and Jewish. I was one of four Asians in my graduating class. Everyone was like either Catholic or Christian and they'd be like, “Oh you're a Buddhist, like, what is that like? What does that mean?” My household, it was in the middle of suburbia New Jersey. But it was just decorated so differently. My mom had a lot of influences from Taiwan, whether it was painting, statues. The color red, as you know, is really good luck and she would just decorate the house like crazy during Chinese New Year.
- Did you ever feel embarrassed about your culture?
As a child, even the smallest things, like asking my mom to pack me a lunch. All the other kids were eating Lunchables. And Lunchables aren't bad by any means, but my mom, she had leftovers, and she can make like rice with some type of meat or fish or even noodles. But I would be terrified of her packing that for me because I don't want the kids to make fun of me or be like, “What are those you're eating? Are those worms, like, what is that?”
- How do you feel about it now?
I think it's so silly really, you know. Yeah, I was so embarrassed and like thinking back now to how I am, the fact that my mom put clothes on me and she had like a food and shelter like stuff like that it just makes me see how appreciative I am of where I came from and the things I had. Because like there's people who don't have clothes and there's people who don't have a mom and dad and my mom was doing everything, she could to make sure that I had the best quality in life.