My parents are originally from the south of China and they left shortly after I was born. This is their first trip back since they immigrated to the United States so it’s been over 25 years! We flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou and while in the cab ride to the hotel, my parents were astonished how much the city has changed.
We took a boat cruise and walked around the city but I admit to spending most of my time shopping. There were just malls of everything you could think of. On top of that, I was speaking Cantonese again. Guangzhou is formerly known as Canton, so while Mandarin is the main language of China, there are a lot of Cantonese speakers here. It felt great to be bargaining in Chinese.
My parents wanted to take me to where I was born so we hopped on a two-hour bus ride and were greeted by some of my parents’ friends. They drove us to Samsui (literally translates to ‘three rivers’), which was another hour and half. It’s been a long time coming, but we finally arrived at the village where I was born. As we were walking around, my parents were so ecstatic to show us the house where my grandparents lived, our house that was a few doors down, and the hospital where I was born.
As my father spoke about how it used to be back in the day and explained why it was so important for us to leave, I was very proud of him for all that he achieved so far and for successfully getting us and other family members to the United States. But as I was staring straight at my birthplace, something I wanted to see since I could remember, I was surprised to feel no connection to it.