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Tug of War
September 13, 2000



Visiting Taiwan with my parents

I am a Taiwanese-Chinese American. I was born in New York and raised in Southern California. Until I was 18, I never gave my family roots much thought. I felt as American as the teenagers on the TV show "Beverly Hills, 90210." But the reason I didn't spend much time thinking about my past is because there are many difficult things about it. It is like a tug of war.

My mother was born in a part of China called Sichuan province. She was the youngest of eight children. Her father, my grandfather, joined the Chinese Army and fought in World War II. After the war, the family moved to Beijing, the capital of China. There was a civil war taking place in China at that time. My grandfather supported the ruling party called the Kuomintang (KMT). But in 1949, the Communists, the group the KMT was fighting against, took over.

My mother's family left China right away. They were afraid they might be killed. They went to Taiwan, along with many other people who feared for their lives. The KMT took control of Taiwan. But they hurt many people who were already living there. My father's family came to Taiwan in the 1600s. They were not happy when all of the new people came in 1949.

Both of my parents came to the United States in the 1960s. They met and got married. In this country it was not a problem. But in Taiwan, it would have been a big deal because my parents' families were on opposite sides.

I visited Taiwan in December 1998. Up until then, all I knew about was MTV and Barbie. Seeing where my parents came from opened my eyes to so much more. It has been hard to look at the difficult things. But it has been great to learn about my family and our history.


Please email me at: irene@ustrek.org


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