Who Are My People? Where Is My Home?


The following is a collaborative piece by me (Hannah) and Luna.  We combined selections of our previous writings.  In creating the dialogue, our choices were specific in an effort to  convey key aspects of our experiences.  We performed the piece as spoken word within the ballet. 


Who are my people, where is my home?
Some diseases are left only for poor countries
And I was born in one so
For my own safety they had to vaccinate me against everything
The United States had already gotten rid of


Are you, rather are we, from Hangzhou? Sometimes I make up stories. I envision you, a shadow veiled by the darkness of the night, gingerly placing a bundle on what you hope will be a well-traveled path. You don’t look back. I choose to believe that your decision was a wish for a brighter future. Maybe there was a death in the family, or maybe money was tight. But likely I was an accidental extra past the One Child Policy quota, or I wasn’t the son you desperately desired. I am one of China’s lost girls, found along a fisherman’s path as if delivered by stork: no family history, no time of birth, no name.


they slipped cold metal into my skin before I had even boarded the plane
Needles, science
had to protect me from this heat, from these tropical monsoons
protect me from these brown skinned people from
Papaya fertility, mango-sweet acidity
These people with their coconut tree resiliency
these poor people


Some have debated my American-ness with a slight tug at the corner of their eyes, while still, others have tried to undermine my Chinese roots. Why do they think they know more about me than I do?


At night, when I flip through my thousand-page history textbook and find the Philippines mentioned twice, I crave mangos. Sometimes, the hallways of my school and bright eyes of my peers recall other eyes, other places, old eyes in thin faces, children threading through honks and exhaust selling sweet smelling sampaguitas, the highways of Metro Manila.


In search of answers, I returned to China. There I realized the could-have-beens and would-have- beens that I taste in duck tongues and hear in bicycle chains are simply snapshots fluttering in the breeze. I can chase these photos, maybe even catch a few, but they will never be a motion picture. Standing at the gate of my orphanage 18 years later, there was no grand welcome home. When I finally approached the guard, his eyes scanning across my face, I could hear the whirring in his brain as he seemed to read what everyone seems to read: “Foreigner.”


Who are my people?  Where is my home?