From The Peopling of New York City

Jump to: navigation, search

My Identity

Cherry Huang (December 30, 1989)

Cherry Huang
Cherry Huang

For most of you, my “name” is Cherry. One can argue that I’m using this little red, sometimes black, fruit as an alias because there is no mention of it on any of my official records. So what, then, is my real name? My official name, if you will, is 黃琬筑. Now at this point, most of you are scratching your heads and wondering, “what the heck are those three funny symbols?” On rare occasions when I tell people my birth name, I say it in Chinese, in its proper pronunciation to do it justice, so it would be appropriate to write it in Chinese. I don’t like the “American” version, or the English pronunciation, of it because I think American people absolutely butcher my elegant-sounding name. One of my first memories of New York was a teacher doing roll call in first grade and uttering something barbaric when she came across my name, “Won chew???” My hand shot up in embarrassment so that she didn’t repeat it again. When I moved to Arkansas (that’s another story in itself) in the fourth grade, a southern accent was incorporated into my name and made it even worse. Lastly, I remember my friends in high school would jokingly say, “won, chu, three, four, five…” So if you want to know how to properly pronounce my Chinese name, come and ask me. Or take a course and learn how to read and say Chinese (yes, just for the sake of pronouncing my name).

I am the youngest of three children. My two older brothers, Jay and Kevin, are awesome and they helped shape me into who I am today. Even though they annoy me sometimes — actually, most of the time — I still love them to death and I know that life without them would be so incredibly dull.

I am an undergraduate freshman in the Macaulay Honors College. My major is biology and I plan on attending medical school after I graduate in the hopes of becoming a physician in the future. I’m not sure which field I want to specialize in, but I just know that I want to go down the medical path.

I am a member 0f the Irish group. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents was my favorite reading from Seminar 2.

On my free time, I like to be active, play guitar, and recently, I’ve discovered my new passion in cooking. Being active for me means playing sports, especially lacrosse. I was introduced to this Native American sport when I was in high school and fell in love with it ever since. Lacrosse incorporates everything I love about sports: agility, skill, and strategy. The guitar is awesome and sometimes, I can better express my emotions through song than words. The instrument represents worship for me because I love playing it when I’m serving in church. Finally, I learned how to cook back in September of last year, when I first moved into the Towers. Away from the comfort of delicious home-cooked meals, my taste buds suffered adverse reactions to the “foods” I was preparing. After a while of frozen food and ramen noodles sauted with frustration, I decided to get some advice for cooking and it’s been great ever since.

Where I'm From

Kaohsiung, My Beautiful Birth Place
Kaohsiung, My Beautiful Birth Place

My dad and mom were both born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Now my grandparents’ origins are a bit more complex. My dad’s parents were born in Taiwan (I’m not sure where exactly because my mom doesn’t remember). My mom has two sets of parents, as do all adopted children. My mom’s biological parents were born in some northern region of China (again, she doesn’t know where). At the age of one, her father was incarcerated by the Chinese government for being intelligent (at that time, in the 1940s and 1950s, anyone who even dared to have thoughts of their own, mainly those who were intelligent, were thought of as a spy and threat to the Chinese government). Without support, my mom’s mother couldn’t bear the thought of raising two young kids by herself, so she abandoned my mom and her sister. Thus cuing the entrance of my mom’s adoptive parents, who were both born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (I know, lots of Kaohsiung babies in my family. But Kaohsiung is definitely one of the more important cities in Taiwan) on December 30, 1989 at approximately 12:00pm. Growing up in Taiwan, life was simple but great because we had each other. Perhaps my life would have been even better had my father not passed away. His death eventually resulted in my family’s immigration to the United States. I was six when we arrived in the United States. Faced with a foreign land, foreign people, and a foreign language, we weren’t sure how we were going to survive in New York. But after dealing with my father’s death, my mom was ready to tackle on the world. Countless job and home changes, sleepless nights, frustration, toiling, and thirteen years later, all three of her children are grown, healthy, and successful. I know where I get my ambition and diligence from, but I would be fortunate if my qualities were half as good as my mother’s.

My New York

Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge
Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge

It was January 26, 1995 when my family and I arrived in John F. Kennedy Airport. It was also the day that I picked out a name from a stand and decided that that was going to be my “American” name. I thank God to this day that I didn’t pick “Brad” or “Michael” or “Herb.”

New York was a mystery - actually still is a mystery - to me. I was young when I came here, so I didn’t know much about this place beforehand. I just knew that this city was foreign and away from “home.” Our first place was an apartment in Rego Park, located right next to the frantic Long Island Expressway. I remember looking out the window and staring at the enormity of that highway and wondering how anything could be this big and how so many cars can travel on it at once. I came from a tiny island that is 1/279th or 0.004% the size of China, so you can imagine my shock at the size of people, places, and “things” in the United States. Of course English was absolute gibberish to me. I remember in my kindergarten class, I didn’t know how to say “I need to go to the bathroom,” so I would hold both hands over my stomach and lifted my feet up and down (like I was jogging in place) and my teacher understood what that meant. About a year after, we moved back to Taiwan because our visas were up. I was relieved because I was going home to where relatives, friends, and amazing food were. I didn’t stay for long. As soon as my mom renewed our visas, we came rushing back to New York and this time, we stayed permanently.

I recently visited the harbor right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Heights and it became my favorite place of New York. As I was standing on the dock, gazing out at the myriad of lights illuminating from the towering skyscrapers from Manhattan on the other side of the river,it hit me for the first time that I live in the city that never sleeps. Only in New York can you visit the Brooklyn Bridge at 11:30pm on a Saturday night and still find a sea of people and cars out and about. The warm breeze from the river embraced me and I felt alive. I never fully acknowledged New York as my home because I was always holding on to some faint hope that I would someday return to Taiwan. But at that moment, I thought to myself, “There is no place like my home in New York City.”

“New York is the greatest city in the world!” This saying holds true for me. It is here that I found God, made friends, learned another language, discovered lacrosse, developed my perspective, and lived my life. New York is my medium for expression and my means to an end. New York is fantastic and flawed, but I accept it just as it is because I know it wouldn’t be New York otherwise.