Mrs. Lin’s story
Twice a year, Mrs. Lin flies from Hong Kong to New York to visit her daughter and grandchildren near Boston. She has learned to negotiate the subways and find her way to Chinatown. She has joined a church and made friends whom she enjoys for the four months of the year she is in America.
Please Note: To protect our clients’ privacy, we have not used actual names. However, the excerpts and circumstances are exactly as presented. Client references and writing samples are available on request.
What Mrs. Lin can’t negotiate as smoothly is the widening gap between herself and her “American” family. She speaks little English; her grandchildren speak no Chinese. History and food is their common language. Our work incorporated three generations in this multicultural family, including Chinese and Lebanese culture and the ways in which they melded.
In another history, Johanna, who was Polish, married a G.I. after the Second World War and moved to America, where she had her children and built a home. Her accent was discernible, but there were few other signs of her first 20 years in Europe. Her grandchildren listened politely to her stories about the war, but it was a time and place far removed from the world they knew. As teenagers, they couldn’t understand when she talked about being bombed or leaving the family apartment with her four brothers and sisters, all under the age of 14, to search for their mother.
Someday, Mrs. Lin’s and Joanna’s grandchildren will want to know all these stories. They will wonder what it was like to have a Chinese wedding with 1,200 guests or how the four young Polish children survived as they made their way more than 50 miles to a small village where their mother had last been seen.
Nothing replaces a firsthand account or stories full of historical detail, personalities, small domestic details, and culture.