Cosette Wu: The Last Night: March 11, 1947

A sudden bang made Shih Chen Jiaotong drop the stack of freshly folded laundry she had been carrying to her bedroom on the third floor of the Sifang Hospital. Another bang resonated through the building, where Jiaotong lived with her husband, Shih Jiangnan, and their daughters. It seemed to have come from downstairs. Jiaotong stepped over a few stray shirts and headed toward the stairway, trying to make out the sounds’ origin.  As she reached the second floor, the hospital ward, muffled…

Claire Kuo: 公公婆婆 

I recognized Taiwan by the way it smells. The handfuls of white magnolia champaca, sold by weathered fingers and wrinkled faces for 30 cents on the road. The dense humidity. The distant, slightly sweet smell of incense and routine straw burning. The dampness of pavement after a plum rain.  I closed my eyes, breathing it all in as I stepped off the plane from New York City. This was home. My parents and younger brother were waiting to pick me up at the airport. Together, we would make our…

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?…

Candice Wang: The Palace Within

Before I learned the word uterus, I knew all about the baby palace. That’s what my mama called it, placing her palms over the soft lower region of her stomach. I’d stare down at my naked abdomen and wonder—how could there be a whole palace built within me? Was I that cavernous?  To me, the uterus wasn’t a mass of delicate tissue, arching fallopian tubes, and pulsing blood vessels. It was a glittering hall carved directly into the skeleton of my body— something akin to the Hall of…

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…

For a Better Life, Move to Taiwan: My Taiwanese American Story

When my mom was twenty, she moved from Taiwan to the United States. Now I’m twenty, and I’m doing everything I can to get back.  There are practical reasons for this, of course. I applied for dual citizenship in high school, and since coronavirus has pushed everything, including my college classes, into the virtual world, Taiwan has become my fabled “land of opportunity.”  But there’s something deeper going on. I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove my “Americanness,”…