Excerpt from an essay exploring the facets to my identity:
"I moved away from my birth country at a young age and in my memories there is little to no recollection of my life in Singapore. I also have never lived in Hong Kong, other than to visit once a year and only then would it be just for one week. This movement of “home” away from Singapore to Beijing at such a young age would lead one to assume that Beijing is where I resonate with more. Although my geographic location shows that I lived in Beijing for 15 years there is much more conflict within that which has shaped my critical perspective. Whilst it is true that I express Beijing as home to others, the way I grew up there has led to a deeper conflict inside me.
Instead of going to a public school, my sister and I were placed in an international school. Although the school boasted about its Chinese language programme and the incorporation of local culture, the school bubble was a very western separate universe. My peers and friends were from all over the country and spoke English to each other; my teachers were all from Western countries and every single one of my subjects other than Mandarin class were taught in English.
In school I learned about European history, at home I used a router to bypass the government-blocked sites to go on Youtube and Facebook because it was the popular sites to go on and provide entertainment in the West, between friends we immersed ourselves with western movies, music and food. I very much grew up in a western world but was physically in China. Upon moving to Baltimore, I finally realised the extent in which I was detached to the country I was living in.
The small snippets of Chinese "culture" I interacted with every day could be counted on one hand; the news station on TV that broadcasted in the background during breakfast, the radio I listened to in the morning with my dad that played English songs but had a Chinese host, and conversations with my Ayi, the person who took care of me and the house since I was 6.
I claim Beijing as my home because I grew up there, my material possessions are there, my house is there, my parents live there, and compared to Singapore and Hong Kong, I definitely do know a whole lot more. However, the word “home” doesn’t mean I know it like the back of my hand as most would know home to be. There are my sacred spots in the city but to what extent are they just for tourists? The local culture was there in the food I would eat and the outside people I interacted with, but it was never fully ingrained inside of me."