In Attire

Fridays were game days.  And, I loved Fridays, because I could wear my football jersey through the hallways of my high school. When you’re wearing your jersey, teachers would wish you good luck on the game and if you’re lucky, girls who ignored you every other day of the week might even peek an eye at you. My winning combination was the jersey tucked in, white tee underneath, blue jeans, and unlaced Timberlands. 

Fast forward to today: I wear a very different uniform. I wear the uniform of Second Lieutenant in the US Infantry, Army National Guard. The US Army uniform stands for resilience, honor, and selfless service. I didn’t always have these uniforms. For most of my life, “home” was a tricky subject, and fitting in, a constant puzzle. Growing up as an American abroad, I never had a true sense of community or belonging -- of being an American. Individually, my uniforms remind me of football practices, pep rallies, basic training, and swearing an oath to the Constitution. But together, they speak to me about shared experience and sense of belonging. To some, uniforms and jerseys might seem like trivial tokens, but to me they represent that a Chinese American boy, raised abroad, who only moved to the States at high school, could be proud and part of the greater American story. 

Place(s): Fairfax, VA

– Russell Gong, 1882 Foundation

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