Lotus Pods and Jambalaya in Jianguomen: Memory and Change in a Beijing Neighborhood
“It was like walking through a time capsule.”
I arrived in Beijing in July of 2012 with the newfound optimism of an exuberant college student still reeling after her first year of independence. The Connecticut winter had been a shock to me—in Hong Kong, we had monsoons; in Middletown, Connecticut, we watched the snow pile into three-foot-high walls. Even more perplexing were all the people on campus who’d insisted on dissecting my identity upon introduction. Some remarked innocently on how good my English was for a person who grew up in Hong Kong; some felt the need to try and tell me who I was—one even demanded, point-blank, “Why are you here?”
All photos courtesy of the author.
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Often we only talk about what the immigrant gains, or what they “take.” We don’t consider what they have left behind.