The Joy Luck Hub Blog Carnival: Asian American Immigrant Stories!

May 1, 2009

He used to sing me to sleep with "God save the queen, iza fascist
regime," which he intoned in a bizarre but somewhat credible imitation
of a cockney accent.

I was in Jr. High, my social studies class was assigned a project, a
family timeline. I thought it was going to be easy, just from Laos to
America. But as I sat there pondering what events to include, I was
stumped; I didn’t know how my family got to America.

My mom, tito and tita spent their preteen and teen years on Guam,
attending a tiny missionary school there. It’s a little unclear
financially how, but somehow Lolo sent all 3 kids off to college in the
U.S. My mom and aunt were probably the only 2 Filipinas/Asians in
Walla Walla, Washington in the late 50’s: they quickly bonded with 2
Japanese-American sisters there as well.

My brother and his fiancé met in middle school and dated in high
school. After high school, they even went to college together. While
talking about their refugee camp experience, they found out they were
in the same refugee camp once.

  • Blogger Ernie of little. yellow. different. blog on seeing the movie with his family: The Joy Luck Club

... sometimes I wonder if my parents were somehow fortold what would happen
— that their daughter would succumb to mental illness and their son
would become an overweight homosexual with a penchant for putting his
private life to share with the Internet — if they would perservere and
stay in the United States, or if they would turn around and go right
back to where they came from.

I have never been in a class with boys before, having
been raised in a convent school in the Philippines since I was six. But
there he was, already tall for his age with fair skin and blonde hair.
The Hollywood ideal that I saw in American T.V. shows in Manila when I
was allowed to watch.

  • Jane Voodikon on the confusions of family storytelling: forty years

I vividly recall in my mother’s version of the story, she escaped to Hong Kong. The verb was always the key part. My father, in his secondhand version of the same story, said that she smuggled out to Hong Kong, on the bottom of a boat. I
thought she got to the U.S. by plane. My sister, then an attorney fresh
out of law school, in her write-up of the account said she sailed.

  • Kimberley of A Companion Piece blog on how alternative families are nothing new: queer luck club

My great-uncle was not a blood relative. His sister and my great-aunt
were life partners, in love with one another since their teens. My
great-aunt married her lover’s brother, who was then in the U.S.  The
two women joined my great-uncle in Stockton, and the three were a
family for more than half a century.

When I was born, my father decided that I should grow up in the
Philippines where I would be safe from the evils of Western society,
and so we moved back to Mom’s home town where she proudly paraded me as
the only half-white baby around for miles and miles.

I made the decision to move to the United States in increments. At
first I was going to stay a month, then three, then I found myself the
lead singer of a rock n roll band and decided to stay. Now I’ve been in
the country six years; the band doesn’t exist anymore but I’ve lived in
five cities (in two states) since opting to stay in Orange County.

My first profanity was “putang ina mo”. My best friend in 3rd grade
got mad at me after she learned the Americans killed Aguinaldo. ... In 5th grade I finally
got to be in a school performance. The Ifugao ceremony where we all
moved together around a fire did not require pairing me off with a boy
half my size.

  • Mo on the details the grand immigrant story gets wrong: the joy luck hub (and this comment seems to have disappeared from the call for subs post. Dunno how that happened.)

My parents ran away from Cambodia not because they didn’t
want to fight, but because my mom was pregnant with me (and pregnancy isn’t
convenient during war.) ... When I was 12, I was
called ‘chink’ for the first time.  It
bothered me more that someone had taught this other child a racial slur, than
the fact that he was calling me a name.  It didn’t occur to me that it should have felt
odd for me to be desensitized to the word.

Still, I am an unlikely first-generation immigrant of sorts. I’m a Korean adoptee of unknown origins...found, fostered and foisted onto
American soil, into the waiting arms of a caring, typically-Caucasian
middle-class family. That makes me a product of
a typically-Caucasian middle-class suburban upbringing, except –
somehow – I don’t feel typical at all.

They found advertisements in science journals for the University of
North Dakota which offered full scholarships. They applied to the
Chemistry department and were accepted, but had no money for air
travel.  Linda's father decided to give money to John for airfare in
1962. After a year, Linda was given the airfare to go. They often
said that they picked North Dakota because they wanted to live
someplace cold because Taiwan was so hot.

honestly, i didn’t consciously try
to forget my first language. it just happened … through
overcompensation, or something. over the years i’ve been trying to
improve, but something else prevented me from succeeding: a lack of
self-confidence. a fear of sounding stupid, making mistakes and
consequently, a fool of myself. after overcoming so many barriers, i
can’t believe this is the one i still can’t defeat.

Right there and then, upon my shoulders was placed the entire reputation of the Chinese people.

Great-great-grandfather went to San Francisco to pluck duck feathers and carve candles. Great-grandfather didn't join him in the States. Why? It's possible that, returning to Zhong Shan, Great-great blew all the money he had saved on gifts and banquets and couldn't afford to bring his only son over.




Thanks Claire for putting this together! I look forward to reading all the entries and put a link to this post as well.
yes, thank you! this is awesome!
In case anyone's hungry for more immigration stories, here's mine:
I love those stories that were collected; it shows the breadth and diversity of immigrant experiences.I still take issue with calling that garbage book a "classic", or even saying there's a "love/hate" relationship. I would say that it's mostly just hate. I don't feel comfortable celebrating any sort of "Happy Birthday" for that book.Just because it achieved commercial success by pandering, doesn't mean we should celebrate or even recognize its publication date. I would rather it simply be ignored and forgotten.
I would also speculate that there were less AAM submissions because of JLC's anti-Asian-male nature. It's similar to why one would expect less letter to the editor submissions from women for a celebration anniversary of Maxim.
Okay Alvin, I think you said everything you needed to say in our previous exchange. Now I feel that you're just pushing your views on others.At least a couple of people have stated in their stories or in comments that JLC meant a lot to them back when they first read it ... and still does mean something to them. You continuing to 'take issue with calling that garbage book a "classic", or even saying there's a "love/hate" relationship' sounds like you're invalidating other people's responses to the book (including my own.)You've gotten a platform here to air your views, and, although I've disagreed with you, I think your views have been treated with respect. I'd ask you to treat other people's views the same way.
i have a couple more immigration stories to share if anyone is interested. one is from me and the other is from a friend. they're