She said our meeting was 命運, fate. And I believed her. Words from the young woman I met at the airport, in transit from one country to another. I had been on the road now for more than six months. I had started to yearn for home. Where was home, any way? She reminded me it was with good people. What a whirlwind. A year ago I set off on a journey, leaving the East Coast to return home and capture the stories of my Chinese American relatives across the Mountain West, from Washington to Wyoming.
I started heading west, and actually ended up out east in Asia –where I met the young woman — and then in Europe along the way. Around the world, one of the great and continual surprises for me is how generous people are — with their time, their homes, their knowledge, their stories, their support, their love.
I found much more than I bargained for with family and friends, old and new, across geographies I never anticipated traveling.
During the winter and spring, I did what I had set out to do. I connected with my family, spent time with them, and collected stories. Colorado State University’s staff and students joined in the conversation, helping me to lay the foundation for Let’s Talk Story (an endeavor that continues — hit me up if you want to participate!).
During a detour to the UK, I found a life partner (I later reunited with him).
I got a summer position in Japan with The Gakko Project, where I got to further my investigation into interviewing and storytelling and share it with people from 31 different countries…
…which inadvertently landed me in the provence of my ancestors in China when one of my departing connecting flights got delayed. It was short, too short, but I’m grateful to have gotten a taste of the modern Guangdong, a world away from what I imagine my grandmother’s Guangdong was.
I lived in sunny London for a while (yes, sunny!).
And I also got to meet up with my parents as they celebrated their wedding anniversary and our September birthdays, making for a memorable birthday abroad.
Familiar faces in new places.
And then it was not so sunny, but I met the fantastic Jun and Cohan behind Resonate, so it might as well have been. Our missions in documenting Asian experiences were aligned, so I started to work with them.
They are secretly rockstars, probably.
And now I’ve come to live in sunny San Francisco. Yes, sunny:
No more living out of a carry-on. I’ve traded a tatami mat for a bed, cafeteria tables for a desk. We built our second to last piece of IKEA furniture, and have even installed wifi. And I recently ordered a hard drive so I can properly store the video oral histories people shared.
Finally, after all that, and with all your help, I’m ready to stop moving and sit down and write a while.
To everyone who opened their hearts, homes, and archives to me, thank you. It feels good to be home, and found home with all of you along the way.
Amy, Mom, and Dad
Asian American Journalists Association
Beverley and Roger
City and County of Butte-Silver Bow
Colorado State University
CSU Asian Pacific American Student Association
CSU Pride Resource Center
East Bay Donut Club
Fong and Cort
The Gakko Project
Jim and Joyce
Jim and Nancy
Josie and Jared
Mai Wah Society
Poudre River Library
Wing Luke Museum
Wo Hing Museum
Wyoming Public Media