Oxford Learner’s Dictionary

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
The inside cover of the dictionary
The inside cover of the dictionary

This is mother’s first purchase in the United States: the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English with Chinese Translation. This red heavy book with a lengthy title and gold ornamental down its spine reconciles the nuances of the Chinese immigrant model in ethnic enclaves like Flushing, Queens. A book annotated heavily by my mother, never touched by my Father, and only symbolized to me has become a material vessel through which to understand the economic, social, and educational particularities of first-generation immigrants in ethnic enclaves like Flushing Queens and their second-generation children. While my dad never considered the importance of the dictionary because of his particular involvement in Flushing’s ethnic economy and immigrant networks, my mom viewed the dictionary as a tool of educational and economic mobility due to her reliance on the dictionary to communicate with her nail salon customers from Brighton Beach. 

My father first moved to Brooklyn in 1993, and eventually settled in Flushing, which positions itself simultaneously as a site of second settlement with constant change, but also as a stable immigrant enclave with economic opportunities for non-fluent English speakers including my father. Through family reunification, my mom immigrated to the United States in 2001 with my older sister. 

Place(s): Flushing, New York

– Wena

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