My Involvement in the Chinese Culture
and Cultural Activities

By: Albert Hwang

I am a full blooded Chinese. Although I was born in Chicago, I am a 100% Chinese. Both of my parents are from Taiwan and all of their parents are from China. Throughout my house Chinese symbols and artifacts decorate the walls and shelves while most of the Western influences hide in the corners. Though we impacted from the Western world, the Chinese culture and activities has impacted me and my family the most. Living with a set of 100% Chinese parents, grandparents, and brother, the Chinese culture changes our everyday life from the way that we think to the way that we do everyday tasks.

Chinese celebrations, like the Chinese New Year, the Moon Festival, and the cultural practices such as praying for ancestors, eating delicious Chinese food, red envelopes, and many other things, have made dramatic changes in my life. Going to Chinese School, reading Chinese books, watching Chinese broadcasts, going to Chinese camp, learning about the Chinese history in school, and even watching Chinese movies all make me closer to my parents, my grandmother, and the entire Chinese culture.

About two years ago, my perspective of the Chinese culture changed. As a part of the Chinese school curriculum, my teacher, Mrs. Law, taught us how to do a lion dance. I had seen people doing the lion dance on TV and pictures in the newspaper, but I never thought I would participate so much. We danced at the Chinese New Year celebrations as I had expected, but I was very surprised of what happened next. A few weeks later, we were informed we were going to a Southern California Chinese School Talent competition for our lion dance. Half of the state's active Chinese schools, teachers, parents, and students that would be there and everyone would hear about it.

I was shocked. The last time anything like this had happened to me was in the third grade when I was awarded a bike for good citizenship, and only the City of Encinitas heard about it. But now me and my fellow Classmates were representing my school and the Chinese to the rest of the non-Chinese world. I was proud to be able to go up to Los Angles and perform our lion dance. We got a plaque and certificate of participation. Not much, but the pride made up for it. We didn't win any prizes because our lion dance was not the best compared to the other performances which included Chinese opera and wonderful Chinese singing and dancing. So much that I felt a bit sad that our performance had not been as strong of a Chinese culture representation as the other performances, but I knew that I had tried my best and so had my classmates.

When I went home that night I changed from an observer to a participant. I decided I would partake more in the Chinese culture which is so deep in my blood. Today I take part in many Chinese activities both in and out of Chinese school. I wish to keep the Chinese culture strong and not let the Western influences take its spot. My heritage is important to me as anyone's heritage is important to them, so I wish to keep it alive as they would. The Chinese were once a strong nation before their great power and empire fell. Once again they are slowly yet steadily catching up and filling in the gaps which keep them from being a strong country. I hope that all of the Chinese people, whether full blooded or just partial, young or old, can make the Chinese strong once again by taking the culture which has influenced them so much and by using that to create a strong promising China for the twenty-first century and for many centuries beyond that.

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