DSC00474-1024x768My name is Emperatriz Ung. My Chinese name is 吴帝莲. I am half Colombian, half Chinese. I speak fluent Spanish. My Mandarin is mediocre at best, but I cherish the language and study the characters. I love their shape, and how the sounds contrast with the fluidity of Spanish. One of my favorite sayings in Chinese is: 人不可貌相,海水不可斗量。It is the equivalent to the American saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I found this Chinese saying useful when I tried making sense of my identity. I had been unsettled by the seemingly innocent question strangers would ask: “What are you?”Sometimes I am uncomfortable having roots from different continents. From Taishan, China and Bogota, Colombia, I sometimes feel the two cultures at odds, playing it out in the United States. I’ve felt the pull of both exclusion and inclusion because I’m biracial. It’s almost like a double-edged sword, one which grants me approval and access, but at times keeps me at bay. When I was younger, I struggled to appreciate both cultures. But with time, I learned that they are two parts of me that are equally important, and I continue to seek connections between my Chinese and Colombian backgrounds in the American landscape.

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