What am I? ABC (American Born Chinese) or ABT (American Born Taiwanese) or ABCT??? I’m a strange mix of mainland China and Taiwan, two classic enemies since Communists took over China. Thanks to my dad, I’m part “Taiwanese” and thanks to my mom, I’m part “Shanghainese.” Interesting right? I sometimes think I float in the middle of the South China Sea between the two lands. When people ask me where I’m from, it’s always a stumble, because I do make that distinguishing mark between China and Taiwan. I’m Chinese, but technically Taiwanese too. Since coming to NYU for college, I’ve slowly become attracted to my heritage and ethnicity. First, I became more in-tune to my Chinese traditions. Then, I fell in love with my Taiwanese half. When I look at my circle of friends over the years, they are predominantly Taiwanese. With them, I have a stronger connection, a greater sense of commonality. I’m also amazed at how many Taiwanese people there are around me at NYU (and probably elsewhere), especially since it’s such a tiny island! I noticed how people are sensitive to the difference between Taiwan and Chinese, to the point that they legitimately call themselves “Taiwanese.” I strangely fall into this category as well; I have pride in my dominant half and I can scream it to the world if I can. It’s just that pure Taiwanese people are not mixed like me, so they have a bigger reason to make that distinguishing mark. Most outsiders simply think Taiwan and China are one and the same, and technically Taiwanese people originated from China. However, both places should be separate because of the differing culture, governments, ideologies, and histories. China should stop being the big bad wolf of Asia, and let Taiwan be. Seriously.
I love speaking Mandarin now, even though I have a conspicuous accent. The accent is seriously weird, somewhere between ABC, Taiwanese and Shanghainese. For example, I cannot pronounce words with the annoying “r” roll in front every word like those Mainlanders. I see myself speaking this unique mix of dialects, but I find myself more like my dad most times. People do pick up on my pronunciations, and easily pick me out from a Southern background (in my case, Taiwan or Shanghai). Interesting how FOBs pick out people’s origins just by the way they speak. To keep going, I appreciate what the entertainment circle has to offer to the listening world. I watch Taiwanese shows (Korean and Japanese too) on Youtube, because unfortunately I do not get all the satellite channels from the island. Some of my favorites include: 康熙來了，完全娛樂，星光大到 just to name a few. This small list does not include the list of dramas I’ve spent every waking hour watching with record speed. I never thought about learning Chinese characters until recently. Now I try to read subtitles in traditional Chinese or even sing along to KTV to brush up my illiteracy.
I went to my first concert at Mohegan Sun to see Jay Chou, the greatest man on the planet (besides being Taiwanese). In my sophomore year, when I first caught “Yellow Fever,” I completely ripped off my wall of American people, and plastered my wall with printouts of Asian hotties (Jay Chou and Lee Hom included). I still have cravings for real Chinese food, and not just tourist trash. I flash the FOB peace pose everytime I take a picture, instinctively like it’s in my genes. Like there’s this awesome video called POSER!!! by WongFu, a internet-based production company that makes that hilarious vids on the Asian domination. All the videos are hilarious, and the Asian guys who came up with the ideas behind the Youtube videos are absolutely genius… Speaking of boys, I keep falling in love with Taiwanese guys (famous and non-famous btw), so much more sexy looking than mainland men 🙂 Never have I been this nutso about my culture, but boy has it really changed me.
I have this urge to go back to my dad’s motherland, even though he sees himself as more American than I do now. I want to spend more time there, and maybe visit the whole island that holds so much history and natural beauty. Last time I went, I had surgery for hyperhidrosis, so half the time I was recuperating and laying in the hospital. This time, I want to spend it well on a nice excursion far away from school.
My friends are not ALL Taiwanese, and I love everyone just the same. I appreciate my range of friends more than ever. I feel a bond with them when it comes to language, our upbringing, and our experiences in life. I honestly had no connection with my so-called friends in high school; I was more a mismatch in the gang, not really fitting into a particular clique. Now I feel more integrated in the classic Asian posse, almost reaching a sense of belonging 🙂 While I have continued exploring my deep enjoyment of the Asian gossip world and entertainment business, I am meeting the real Connie. I am not hiding from my identity anymore, I’m embracing who I am. I am lucky to have Shanghainese and Taiwanese roots, so that I experience the best of both worlds. I love my family and friends, and I will stay with them forever.