My Chinese Story (我的中文故事)


Hello everyone! I would like to speak about my Chinese story. I look Chinese, but I grew up in America. (Chinese translation: 大家好!我想说一说我的中文故事。我看起来一个中国人,但是我在美国长大。)

I have been tutored in Chinese, taken classes in high school, and am completing a Chinese studies minor in college. 我有一个很大的问题;我为什么想学习中文? (English translation: I have a big question; why do I want to study Chinese?)

My query of self-reflection has multiple answers: Chinese is interesting; it is a part of my heritage; and it is useful in a globalized market. 中文也是我的第二语言。(English translation: Chinese is also my second language.)

I grew up with English. I enjoy reading English literature, and had English bedtime stories read to me as a child. Chinese language studies were encouraged by my parents, who also spent a brief tenure in Hong Kong. While I marveled at the proximity to my own cultural identity, I was also an outsider from within that culture. When I went to Beijing for an internship, I was expected to be fluent in Chinese; I was not, and am still working towards that goal. Even if my appearance is Chinese, I was raised as an American. The dissonance between my Chinese identity and my upbringing creates a layer of nuance within my study of the language. If the prior mix of Chinese and English is strange-sounding and somewhat difficult to navigate as a reader, then that dialogue between Chinese and English is what I grapple with in my memories. There is a sense of disjointedness and coherence as a representative of both identities; I am a Chinese-American who is more attuned to being American than Chinese. Studying the language and culture can bridge the knowledge gap, but it cannot create an alternative experience of what my life could be. As an adoptee, I am grateful for the reality that is my current context.

哎呀!我太担心了。(English translation: Ah! I am too worried.) After all, the intersection between race and heritage underlays my language studies. Articulating the complexities of my reasons for perusing a connection to China through language is ironically, better communicated in English than Chinese. This is simply my own experience; there are many others that I could not comprehend without the others’ experience. As to why I study Chinese, there are many correct answers: I wonder if any of them can capture the complexity that I feel towards my birthplace?

我知道我的中文很简单,可是我的中文故事不太简单。我知道我的中文名字。我的家人和朋友叫我 Samantha。因为中文是我的第二语言,所以我复杂的注意写到了英文。我希望我可以用中文写到我的中文故事。连我都学到中文我可能不能写我的情怀。

I know that my Chinese is simple, but my Chinese story is not. I know my Chinese name. My family and friends call me Samantha. Because Chinese is my second language, I therefore write my complex ideas in English. I hope to use Chinese to write my whole Chinese story. But even if I master Chinese, I might not be able to write my emotions.

Some feelings and phantom memories might not be communicable by any language. While that claim is debatable (and I welcome discussion), I personally feel that my Chinese story is continual as I unravel my other self from the heritage from which I was born. My Chinese self is me, even if I grew apart from China: My American self is also me. All I can do is have gratitude towards the parents who hoped for a better life, and for the ones who grant me my current lived existence.

我都爱你们!我特别爱我的妹妹!(Partial English translation: I love you all)



Student, reader, cat lover. Dabbling in experimentation and self-expression.

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Samantha Chipman

Student, reader, cat lover. Dabbling in experimentation and self-expression.