Jobs and Identities

Relationship: Im/migrant

The woman on this picture is my mother. The picture depicts the type of job she had when she first came to the United States and the work environment she was in. This was a Chinese restaurant owned by her relative, it was located in Atlantic City. My mother told me that on the first day of her arrival, her relative cooked a bowl of noodles soup with a hard boil egg (this dish has a meaning of safeness in Chinese culture) for her, and she started working immediately the next day. Everyone was busy taking care of their own lives. At the beginning of her American life, she was a total stranger here and a freshman for her job, more importantly, she didn't speak any English. Therefore, she could only stay and live with the only people she knew. In the restaurant, she did deep frying meats and poultries, making wantons, dish washing, etc. Basically, wherever needed her, she would be there. From the background wall where above the door, we see a rack that holds two small lanterns and a protective deity and the red couplet on the door. It is one of Chinese New Year traditions to put red couplets with good meanings and wishes on the door to signify an auspicious year and a prosperous family. This reflects the needs of the 1st generation immigrants for connection with their old culture and spiritual comfort. 

Place(s): China, New York
Year: 1998

– JL

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant