Cōng yóu Bǐng: A Catalyst for Taiwanese Self-Identity

Oil in the worn iron skillet bubbles a caramel hue with burnt flaky dough dotting the bottom like poppy seeds. Laying the newly formed Cōng yóu Bǐng in the pan, the oil splatters and the scent of fried dough and sharp tang of scallions perfume the kitchen. As my hands shape each pancake, I reflect on how food has shaped me, allowing me to connect with my ethnic roots and construct my identity.  [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The author’s Cōng yóu Bǐng prepared in…

Coming of Age with Grace Lin’s “Year of the Dog”

“So, what are you?”  Since childhood, I've had a go-to response: “I’m fifty-percent Taiwanese, twenty-five percent Mexican, and twenty-five percent German.” I was proud to present myself as a unique combination of races and ethnicities, to be “othered” from any and all groups; but this statistical proclamation showed that I only understood myself as a pie chart in which I was part of a whole. I wasn’t allowed full access into any of these identities. I grew tired trying to…

What I learned from a year of asking, “Am I Taiwanese?”

By Angela Yu, co-host of "Hearts in Taiwan" podcast I am Taiwanese American, but it’s taken me a long time and a lot of careful thought to say that. I am also Chinese American, an identity I’ve lived with for much longer. This week marks the one-year anniversary of launching a podcast that my cousin Annie Wang and I created to understand the complexities of identity among people whose families come from Taiwan, and we’ve come a long way since then. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]…

Spencer Chang: “Ghost Stories” and Other Poems

From the judges, Charles Yu and Shawna Yang Ryan: "In this sophisticated collection of poems confronting personal and community history, Spencer Chang elegantly uses a variety of poetic forms, white space, and highly original images to great emotional effect. In language where violence and beauty collide, Chang illuminates historical events such as the 228 Massacre, the murder of Vincent Chin, and the sacrifice of the Chinese in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Ultimately,…

Phoebe Ga-Yi Chan: Formosa is Portuguese for “Beautiful”

I can still taste the candied strawberries on my tongue.  Sometimes, I wake up expecting to see a boxy, white air conditioning unit above me, rather than my bedroom ceiling. I expect to open my window and be looking down sixteen stories from the apartment complex my grandparents live in, the view of the street below obscured by the muggy, humid, summertime air.  I can still hear the sound of mopeds going by, leaving the smell of asphalt and exhaust in their wake as they head to the morning…

Britney Chen: A Taste of Nostalgia

  Over the years, I had grown familiar with the musty scent of airplanes, the sound of my footsteps on the boarding bridge, and the taste of microwavable airline meals. I had gotten used to the constant feeling of change, like a bottle bobbing in the Pacific Ocean seafoam, searching for a home. What does the word “home” mean? I’ve always struggled with answering the question: “Where are you from?” Even more so now. Is it where I was born? Where I grew up? Where I currently live?…

Jaja Hashimoto: I Cut My Own Tongue Off

I had a tongue that held three languages by a single thread.  When I was in second grade, I had a tutor who was the brightest among all. He had a Masters in Animal Science and a PhD in stem cell research. He attended National Taiwan University and graduated top of his class.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my tutor would come and help me with English, Math, Science, and everything else I needed help with. Every time we had class, he would assign vocabulary homework to help with my weak word…

“The Other End” & other Poems by Averylin Cummins

Averylin is a high school student, athlete, and activist; a third generation Taiwanese-American seeking to reconnect with her culture; and an aspiring writer and poet who explores race, gender, and sexuality through her work, using it to observe and reflect not only the world but also her own experiences. From Averylin: "Three Strong Emotions" started as a rant, typed sloppily into the notes app of my phone. I wrote "Anger" first, but it felt incomplete because that wasn't the…

Dignity, Belonging, and Meaning-Making in a Pandemic: What Learning Taiwanese Taught Me in a Season of Loss and Hate

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] FEATURE PHOTO PROVIDED BY AUTHOR[/caption] When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the East Coast last spring, I unexpectedly found myself at home for an extended stretch of time. For me, quarantining with family meant that daily walks with my dad and weekly drives to a local Taiwanese bakery became a natural time for me to learn more Taiwanese — something I had been trying to do on-and-off for quite some time. As weeks turned into months, my vocabulary…

Jennifer Co: 1993 – 1998

I am 21 and I am waiting. I wait for the university to spit me back out into the world, for the past four years to suddenly, and unabashedly, mean something. I wait and I watch friends and roommates and chosen strangers arrive upon the doorsteps to the rest of their lives: grad school admissions and gap years and start ups, sprinkled with full time offers from the companies spilling from my father’s news coverage sometimes, a marriage every now and then, a baby shower. I think of the palpable…