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Bok Choy and mushrooms. Pig tongue and beef liver. Dishes like these grace our dinner table every day. These unusual, even exotic animal parts and vegetables may turn away the average diner, but my family welcomes this cuisine with gleaming eyes.
Eating Chinese foods, speaking Chinese, and playing the piano are all things I do because of my (you guessed it!) Chinese heritage. And I am not alone. I am part of a large community of Chinese-Americans, one that includes family, friends, and friends of friends – basically every Chinese-American within a five-mile radius. Some of us play piano, most of us speak Chinese – and all of us enjoy a hearty meal of Chinese food.
We are very close-knit, and there are very few secrets. Through the gossip of adults at the regular potlucks, everyone seems to know everything about each other: who recently moved, who got a new job, and whose child was accepted into a prestigious college.
As a member of this community, I give back. Every Sunday, without fail, I volunteer at Michigan New Century Chinese School, helping teachers and students with technical problems and translating between Chinese and English. In my free time, I tutor other Chinese kids in a variety of subjects: US History, Biology, even Chinese.
The Chinese community that I call my extended home is a place of joy, of helping others, and of full stomachs. When I stuff my face with shrimp brains and stinky tofu, I have the strongest sense of my community; because without my community, I wouldn’t be who I am.
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