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It was another exciting week of teaching and DukeEngage. Teaching continues to give me lots of joy. This week was already the halfway mark of the program. Yesterday, we celebrated that and Austin’s birthday with free Chinese food. It is hard to believe that all the fun I’m having with Zhuhai students will only last a couple more weeks.

Yesterday, I asked my adult students in my Baobaoban class about their children and education. Most had kids in college or working already. Their kids live everywhere, including in Shanghai and Australia. One has two children who are 4 and 10 years old. It was definitely a culture shock to hear about their own kids and how they live so far from home. Though, this certainly was not unexpected. Having visited China numerous times because of my father, I have gotten to know many of his co-workers who have children all around the world. I, myself, have family everywhere, from California to New York to Australia to Canada to Vietnam to China and probably more.

Talking to them has made me think about my own personal history. I grew up in a small suburban town called Orinda, CA. I have lived in other places for short periods of time, including Hawai’i and Macau, but have ended spending most of my life in Orinda. I received a very high quality education in Orinda. I was also able to actively pursue my own academic and athletic interests because of the resources that have been at my disposal. It has all been because of my family. My mother fled Vietnam after the war in the 70’s. She came to the U.S. extremely poor, but through her own strong will and with the help of her sisters, she was able to complete her college degree. There have of course been many hardships along the way, as both of her brothers disappeared early on. On the other hand, my father came to the U.S. to pursue a graduate degree in Organic Chemistry in Chicago after attending Hong Kong University for his undergraduate degree. He was one of a few people in his family to leave Macau. Before him, one of his cousins left Macau to study at U.C. Irvine. My father was inspired his cousin to leave China and study here. My father met my mother at work and my sister and I were born.

I have been fortunate enough to attain a very good education. I have also been lucky enough to be in touch with my own family and culture. My father has lived in China since I was four years old. He has of course traveled to the U.S. to see me and my other siblings (I have a half-brother and half-sister from my father). I have also visited China almost every summer since elementary school. I’ve been able to travel all through China and see family and experience its culture. With COVID-19, I have not able to see my father for two years and it is likely I will not see him until next year. However, I believe I have lived a happy life and it is because of my loving family.

My father and sister


My mother and sister