Coming to a strange new country and growing up as an immigrant wasn't always easy.
In early grade school I brought a packed lunch my mom made me to school. The lunch was a rousong sandwich, shredded pork floss sandwiched between two slices of bread. The kids at my school shrieked out loud when they saw it, pointing, "What IS that? Ewww!"
I was so embarrassed, I could have shrunk down into my shoes and disappeared. I put my lunch away and slunk out of the lunchroom. That very day, I told my mom that I didn't want to bring lunch anymore and wanted to buy it from school. From that point on, I ate school lunch every day until I graduated high school.
I don't know what school lunch will be like when you grow up, Zoe, but growing up it was absolutely terrible. Flavorless red delicious apples, limp sandwiches, chewy chicken nuggets, soggy pasta, french fries, and the ubiquitous carton of milk. And I love food (as you seem to too), so you'll understand my regrets now – I 100% missed out on my mom's delicious food – slurpable noodles, juicy dumplings, flavor-infused rice bowls. It would have been 100X better if I hadn't been so embarrassed and afraid.
If only my little self had known to say to those shrieking kids, "What is this? Why, it's like the most delicious cotton candy pork sandwich you've ever had – try it!" Or, "You guys are missing out, let me tell you about it."
I realize now what a gift it is to have my Taiwanese culture. I have a completely different language, exposure to incredibly delicious cuisine, and a whole history and culture that complements my American upbringing. It gives me a whole new lens with which to examine the world.
You're going to have even more than that, Zoe, coming from both East and South Asian culture. You'll celebrate Lunar New Year and Diwali, feast on parathas and dumplings, and be immersed in so much more. I love celebrating and sharing our differences with you and the rest of our community.