Migrant Murals

An artist illuminates Singapore’s Chinese migration history on concrete On a 44-meter mural in Singapore’s Central Business District, artist Yip Yew Chong unfurls over 150 years of Chinese migration. The mural spans the entire back wall of the historic Thian Hock Keng Temple, which Chinese laborers and philanthropist Tan Tock Seng built in 1839 to…

A Restaurant with No Name

El Barrio Chino, Lima, Perú I stepped into their restaurant. A woman and her two kids were sitting at the first booth of the restaurant. I stared at her and she stared at me. I hadn’t experienced being stared at so hard when entering a restaurant. “Uhh.. para comer?” I said. Literally “to eat?” is…

Writing in Community with the Chinatown Writer’s Workshop

Mei leads me to the basement of The W.O.W Project’s space on Mott Street. “Be careful with the steps.” I slowly walk down the stairs of the Wing on Wo & Co.’s store, the oldest business in Chinatown dating back to the mid 1890’s. I find myself in their multipurpose basement for first time, surrounded…

Bringing Traditional Chinese Medicine to Havana: Report Back

The last time I went to Cuba, I arrived straight from having lived in Peru and did not know about the scarcity of supplies and resources there when it came to traditional Chinese goods. After meeting the community of elderly grandparents, I realized that given the chance, I’d lift some dim sum restaurants in New…

Chinese Lessons in Havana

An aging Chinese Cuban community fights to preserve its Chinatown The gate of Havana’s Chinatown protrudes above a four-lane street connecting the residential neighborhood of Central Havana to the local tourist destinations. Every day of the week, vintage American cars drive past carrying foreigners on private tours of the city, or serving as rideshares for…

My Heart in Havana

I’m writing this from the International Airport in Havana. It’s the end of my week coming back to see my loved ones in Havana’s Chinatown and my heart feels full. I feel healing. When I first met the 20+ abuelos in the Casa de los Abuelos a year ago, I didn’t know that I would…

A Chinese Restaurant in East Harlem

I’ve been part of a free youth field production class at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network in East Harlem these past 10 weeks, which I’ve loved. Today a classmate and friend walks in with a lunch box of white rice, shrimp and broccoli. Hungry, I ask her where she got it. “There’s a Chinese place on…

The Love of Chinese Cuban Grandmothers

Exactly one year ago, I was in Cuba entering my second month of living in Havana and getting to know the Afro/Chinese/Cuban community there. Even though it has been a year, time has it so that it really doesn’t feel like it. I remember how heavy my heart was seeing a Chinatown that used to…

Chinatowns Around the World

I spent this past year traveling to Chinatowns in eight countries around the world. Funded by Wellesley College, it was my first time traveling solo and planning the entire trip from the places to the people I met. In one year, I lived in eight countries on six continents: Peru, Cuba, South Africa, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia,…

Searching for Home in Mediocre Roast Duck

I walked into the Chinese restaurant, hungry, after wandering around District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. I scan the menu and order roast duck with rice. The waiter brings it out of the front kitchen with steaming rice. I fork a first bite. Memory floods over me. Home. But with the second and third,…