Children of immigrants often feel as if they belong nowhere, that no one comprehends their unique voice. The language and customs of their parents homeland may be confining, unfamiliar and uncomfortable, while people in their own homeland see them as outsiders because of the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes or elements of their cultural heritage. Education does not take this discomfort away and may even heighten it. Only empathy and familiarity can ease it, along with a realization that by blending cultures we find both new answers and new questions. The following poem, written and recited by Renee Liang, is a wonderfully personal exploration of what it means to grow up between cultures.
Renee Liang is a pediatrician, poet, and writer of plays and fiction from New Zealand, well respected for her contributions to the arts, medicine and science. She was involved in Funky Oriental Beats, a platform for Kiwi-Asian performing artists and is a researcher for the Growing Up in New Zealand study, which focuses on successful and equitable child development. Her writings have been published in the New Zealand Listener, JAAM, Blackmail Press, Tongue in your Ear, Sidestream and Magazine, and she has written and produced three plays, Lantern, The Bone Feeder and The First Asian AB. Liang was named a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader in 2010.