Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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In a place like New York City, cultural diversity flourishes. With the theme of cultural encounters in mind, I decided to make my collage revolve around my personal cultural encounter between American and Chinese culture. I am known as an ABC, an American-born-Chinese. For a time in my life, I actually thought of myself as two parts participating in a competition. Both ethnicities, it seemed, were trying to win me over to their side. I felt like I was often stuck in between, much like the hyphen in the word “Chinese-American”. In this collage, I explored the different cultures and values that I grew up with.

There is a circle of American pictures and items placed around the center of my heart. Around the circle of American items, I have another circle of Chinese items. I purposely positioned my collage this way because I feel that I am closer to American culture than to Chinese culture. The shape of my entire collage is of a circle because of the shape of the symbolic ying-yang to represent peace and the unity of both cultures incorporated into my identity.

Although I was born here, the presence and habits of my family remind me of my roots – of where I come from. My family is very traditional and possesses qualities of the stereotypical Asian family. Every weekend, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents gather and wait in crowded and bustling dim sum restaurants to hopefully grab a table big enough to seat everyone, hence the pictures of dim sum, tea, food, and chopsticks. Meanwhile, every Sunday, my family and I make it a habit to eat an American dinner like pizza. Clothes also differ between the cultures. Although as a child I have been forced to wear the traditional bright red clothing, I have only agreed to it once. However, I do admire the beautifully detailed dresses and elaborate ch’ang-p’ao’s that women wore in ancient China. We celebrate holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, holidays that my parents have come to adopt, and Chinese New Year, a holiday I always look forward to.

Despite the differences in holidays, clothes, food, and language, I still embrace both American and Chinese values as en entity. Like the ying-yang, both cultures mesh into one to create my identity and overcome my very own cultural encounter.


1 Katie Alarcon { 12.16.08 at 8:06 am }

Anna I loved how you methodically approached your collage. On one side is that is Asian and all that is Chinese on the other. In you I see a balance and I can relate to it. I guess to your definition I should be considered an ABH (American Born Hispanic). I try to love the best of both of worlds but you are right sometimes it is hard to please both the traditional and the modern. So we are hyphens.

2 Jack { 12.27.08 at 7:22 pm }

What interested me is not only the content in the collage but also your incorporation of the circle. For me circle is the world we live in, and to achieve a balance in the circle is similar to achieving a balance between your Asian heritage and your American culture.