Love Kimchi Mamas? (We know you do!) Want to keep the party going? (We know you do!) Then join us on Maya's Mom in our group Kimchi Parents. This group is for all parents, and parents of all cultures are welcome!
This past weekend, we walked down to a local coffee shop since the
weather is finally getting nice. Right when i was trying to back our
stroller out of the coffee shop, this man steps in. He was pretty much
blocking us in.
"Is your daughter Chinese?" he asks.
"No," I say. "I'm Chinese American."
"Oh," he says. "Do you speak Mandarin?"
"No," I say. "I'm third generation American."
"Oh. Well, you know, people in China said that I speak mandarin better than a Chinese person."
At this point, I started to go off on him about how I was born and
raised in America, and how I don't speak Chinese and.. and... and...
then he got all like, "Hey, I'm just trying to make conversation." Blah
blah blah. He was a middle-aged white male, and clearly I was getting
sketchy vibes from him. Did he not realize that i was in the process
of backing the stroller OUT of the coffeeshop?
It frustrates me that he brought Tae into it. That he made all
kinds of assumptions about us. That he couldn't talk about god damn
weather if he really just wanted make conversation. It frustrates me
that I just get angry and don't have it in me to turn this into a
teachable moment. It frustrates me that in situations like this, I am powerless. He had the power to make me uncomfortable and upset, and I had nothing.
The school I went to in Honolulu when I was a child is the very definition of the term "melting pot." The student body (and the faculty as I remember it) reflected the clash of races and cultures evident in the Honolulu community and Hawaii at large. At the time I was there, officials used to boast that it was the largest private school west of the Rockies. Not sure if that's still true, but to a little kid, it sure seemed like a big place.
It's also the alma mater of Barack Obama, which might explain why he has
chosen to rise above the issues of race that (ignorant-ass) people keep bringing up. In Hawaii, a place where cultures have been "mashing-up" for hundreds of years, it's just not that big a deal to most people. Sure people are proud of their heritage just like anywhere else, but with that pride also comes an acceptance of (not just "tolerance of") other cultures that is unique. When you live on a small island, you have to learn to get along. Am I idealizing Hawaii? A little. But when I visit there, it's the only time that my kids and I blend seamlessly into the fabric of the community. The qualities that make us "unique" here just aren't when I'm in Hawaii. In fact my uniqueness might be that I am only a blend of two ethnicities and not four or six.
To me, nowhere is this more beautifully evident to me than when I read the list of recent high school graduates and their chosen colleges and universities in my alumni bulletin (which rivals most university publications). When I read the names—which are long and "crazy-mixed-up" just like my own children's names— I can't help but smile thinking about the generations that came before them, and how special it is that they live in a place where their heritage isn't a novelty.
Elizabeth Kazuko Malia Ane Andrew Ka'ikaika'ho'okahi Akihara William Hyatt Hasegawa Bradley Brian Jung-Hyun Chang Kaliko'onalani Diana Hernandez Melissa Kuniko Jasper Spencer Lawrence Jin-On Jennifer Hokulani Yuk Lan Cabrio Wendy Li-Wen Kimiko Chun Brooke Herman Haunani Peterson Tyler Akita Wai-Ho Yamashita Maile Chang LeBoeuf Mallory Mariko McDaniels Laura Marie Kapiolani Wade Langdon Saburo Arnold Delgado Jaime Keiko Kehaulani Okata Kawika Jason Furtado Taylor Chin Delgado-Chung Jasmine Ann Michiko Kalani Hashimoto and the rest of the class of 2006, best of luck in your travels!
As you embark upon this next phase of your lives, especially if you are off to college on the mainland, you are about to find out just how lucky you are.
We recently went to see The Host (Gwoemul)
by Korean director Bong Joon-ho. If you haven't heard about it, it's a
monster movie from South Korea that has gotten fairly wide distribution
in the US. I was delighted and a bit surprised to see a movie in
Korean at our local multiplex. Although the actors in the trailer are
speaking English, the movie is mostly in Korean with subtitles.
When I first heard about it, I thought it would be like those awful Godzilla
movies that my husband and son love to torture me with on Saturday nights.
Is it just me, or do other people have children who like to sing "mo-su-ra, mo-su-ra" in an attempt to summon a giant moth to save Tokyo?
Anyway, the premise of The Host is based on a real-life
incident in which a US Army official forced an underling to dump toxic
chemicals into a drain leading to the Han River. In the movie version,
the chemicals lead to a mutant creature that grows to epic proportions,
and surfaces one sunny day to terrorize people hanging out in the park
beside the river. This leads to a campaign of government
"misinformation" to try to downplay the monster's existence and threat.
One thing I’ve observed about Koreans is our quasi-schizophrenic way of viewing ourselves. On one hand, we claim to be a fiercely proud, loyal, and passionate people; yet, in the same breath, we can say that we are judgmental, intolerant, cheap, hard-drinking, and pugnacious. But we make these latter, not-so-flattering claims in sort of a gloating way, as though having a hot temper is actually a good quality, not one to be ashamed of.
Every time my mother visits from Korea, or I visit my mother, I go through a rigmarole of various emotional stages of preparing myself for the unexpected, not to mention an internalized freak-out that includes a fantasy in which I get those craaaazy eyes, scream as I tear my hair out. I have to say that she's one of the most contradictory person I know; I respect the hell out of her one moment and the next moment, I declare that she's not going to win a "Mother of the Year" award any time soon.
At our last Open Thread Thursday, there was a great discussion of language and how many of us would like to learn more Korean. Someone suggested that we form a discussion group to help motivate and teach each other more Korean...So, introducing...KIMCHI SCHOOL!
If you'd like to be a part of the group, just send an e-mail to:
The group is restricted, so please identify yourself as a reader of this blog, so you will be approved to join.
We need people of all levels of proficiency so that we can help each other, propose lessons, recommend language programs, and keep the group motivated. Feel free to share your ideas on how we should operate the group, suggest lessons, and recommend language programs that you have used.
Kamsa hamnida to Summer for the great idea and name suggestion.