Folding Fans

One of two folding fans
One of two folding fans

Hung on the walls of my grandma’s New York City apartment are two intricate folding fans. Each of the fans have beautiful flowers and Chinese characters in black ink. Looking at the fans, my grandma remembers how difficult it was to transport objects of sentimental value when immigrating. Growing up near Beijing, my grandma eventually moved to Taiwan, finishing high school there before immigrating to the United States. However, when I look at these fans, the calligraphy serves to remind me that words are a gift. In the first sense, this calligraphy was a personalized gift for my great grandparents. Additionally, my great grandparents gifted my grandma important words of advice before she immigrated. They told her the most important thing she could ever possess was in her head: her education. She followed their advice in the United States, earning both her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees. She tells me how following this advice makes her feel as if she has truly achieved the American dream. Lastly, words were one of my favorite gifts I ever received from my grandma, Kris Liu. When she visited every summer, my siblings and I spent our days gathered around the dining room table reading. By fifth grade, I dreamed of being an author. I loved reading so much that I became an English major. When I look at these fans, I remember how lucky I am to have been given the gift of words. I hope that I can give students this same gift as a future English teacher.

Place(s): Taiwan

– Kaitlyn Liu

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant