A Daughter's Journey To Learn Mandarin Chinese At 30 : Short WaveNearly 1 billion people speak Mandarin Chinese. But Short Wave host Emily Kwong is not among them. As a third generation Chinese American, Emily's heritage language was lost through the years when her father, Christopher Kwong, stopped speaking the language at a young age in order to adjust to life in the U.S. Now, at age 30, Emily's trying to reclaim Chinese by attending virtual Mandarin classes for the first time. In conversation with her father, Emily explores how being 'Chinese enough' gets tied up in language fluency, and how language is a bridge that can be broken and rebuilt between generations — as an act of love and reclamation.
Check out more of the Where We Come From series here.
Christopher Kwong, Emily's father, stopped speaking Mandarin when he was five years old. His parents — Emily's grandparents — didn't want him to fall behind in school at the time. In conversation together, Christopher and Emily process what it means to stop speaking a language — the generational cost of assimilation.
Emily will also explore how being 'Chinese enough' gets tied up in language fluency and the feeling of racial imposter syndrome, in conversation with sociolinguist Amelia Tseng. She discovers how language is a bridge that can be broken and rebuilt between generations — as an act of love and reclamation.
Anjuli Sastry created and produced 'Where We Come From' with additional editing and production by Julia Furlan and Diba Mohtasham. Video reporting, production, and editing by Michael Zamora.Fact checking and research by Candice Vo Kortkamp. Our director of programming is Yolanda Sangweni.