Buddha Statuette

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

Some families have treasured heirlooms, passed down for generations; some have objects older than they are; others, however - like mine - do not.  My mother grew up during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China.  She and her family were exiled to the countryside because of their wealthy, intellectual background and Mongolian heritage.  Most of their belongings were taken from them, and as a result, they lost anything that might have become an heirloom.  Years after Mao died and the Cultural Revolution ended, my mother came to the United States as a graduate student.  Despite the time that had passed, the experiences of her childhood continued to affect her.  Living in exile had taught her to take nothing for granted, and to curb cravings for material possessions.  To represent those teachings, she had a Buddha statuette which she had gotten in Nepal.  Though she did not know it at the time, she would eventually keep that Buddha on a shelf, in a home which she shared with her American husband and two Mongolian-American daughters.  Now, the statuette continues to represent those teachings for me and my sister: the next generation.  Sometimes, our family visits Buddhist temples to reinforce the philosophy, or to clear our heads during times of emotional turmoil.  We may not have statues older than ourselves, but we have a reminder of our family’s grit and resilience, and how glad we are to be American.

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant