My Bamboo Generation

“Sow melon, reap melon; sow beans, reap beans.” -Chinese proverb

bambooBamboo is hardy. It’s one of the first plants I ever received and requires little care. Whether placed in soil or a vase of decorative stones, it revives with a douse of water. According to feng shui rules, it attracts good luck and fortune. In fact, I featured bamboo centerpieces at my wedding.

However, in Cantonese, there’s a term known as “jook-sing.” It refers to a hollow bamboo pole used as a measuring tool. But really it’s slang for Westernized (think: American-born) Chinese because we’re caught in the middle, like water in a segmented bamboo, unable to flow out and connect to either end. I’ve been called this and other terms: twinkie, banana. Note that both the previous food items are yellow on the outside but white on the inside. I think you get the picture.

I’m still struggling to balance my identity even after decades of juggling. It helps that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month, and I know I’m not alone.

Bamboo grows fast, at recorded rates of 98 inches in 24 hours. Another inspiring thing about bamboo is that it’s one of the strongest materials around, even better than steel. I hope to grow in my knowledge of the upbringing and background that makes me unique, and stay strong in celebrating my Asian Americanness.

Happy Heritage Month!

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