Interview with Winona

Winona is an animal/people lover and a wannabe extrovert living in Buffalo, NY. She recently obtained her B.S. in Business, Marketing and plans to attend a design school to pursue her passion in fashion design. She will be staying in Hong Kong for a month or two before returning to school. Follow her on Instagram @nonawi


This is my beautiful mama. She is the mother and world to my life. I would not be the same person as I am today without her. I’ve never had any other mom but she is the best mom anyone could ever ask for!

Sound recording

Angela: Hi I’m Angela Law from the Diaspora Narratives. Today I’ll be interviewing Winona, who I’ve known since high school. So first off, you can answer whatever comes to mind. Tell me about yourself in terms of how you identify and see yourself.

Winona: So I’m Winona and I am a first generation American. I’m Asian American and my ethnicity is Chinese. My parents were born in Hong Kong and my mom moved here when she was 30 for her job, and later my dad followed her to America.

Angela: Okay, great. I’ll ask you about your generation status. It’s okay if you don’t know how to answer this question because honestly, I’m still confused about this question. Tell me about your family; why you identify as first generation American…

Winona: So I identify as first generation American because my mom came to America as an immigrant and I was born here…um so I guess I would be considered first generation along with my two sisters; I have an older sister and a younger sister & I guess we’d be considered first generation Americans.

Angela: Great Winona. So tell me a bit about your family. So you told me your mom moved here as in the U.S. when she was 30, and then your dad followed her? Can you tell me a bit about that? When your mom came did she come to New York? I want to hear the story.

Winona: So at the time China was taking back Hong Kong from British rule & she told me one time the reason why she came to America was because she was trying to um escape, I guess…and she already went to school for nursing, and she came to America… to find a job in and during that time my parents, my mom and dad bought a house in Hong Kong and the price of the house went up by a lot, and they were deciding what they wanted to do, so they decided to come to America; they decided my mom would come first, then later on my dad would join her. And at the time my mom was pregnant with my older sister

Angela: And were your parents married at that time, like in Hong Kong? And during that time they were married and thinking about moving to the U.S.?

Winona: Yeah, so they got married in Hong Kong…um I don’t know a lot about it but what she told me…um was that they got married at a hotel in Hong Kong… there wasn’t a lot of money that they used to pay for the wedding I think it was like a hundred [or] thousand U.S. dollars…um and after they got married, that’s when they decided to buy the house and after that’s when they decided to come to America…after…that’s when the price of the house went up by a lot.

Angela: Okay wow, I never knew this about you before. We’ve never really talked about this, but do you think your family has influenced your worldviews and goals, some of your passions and dreams growing up?

Winona: Yeah, definitely growing up I’ve learned a lot of things…um they taught me how to be respectful of other people, to be humble; I learned a lot from my mom she was my role model growing up…um she always put other people first. She was extremely hard working. She had three jobs. Most days she wouldn’t have enough sleep… she’d sleep at most five hours a day so I saw how hard she was working…I wanted to help her out, and the whole family. We tried to help her um by cooking dinner, cleaning the house; things like that to help her. So she’s very caring of other people – I guess that helps her job right now…you have to be a caring person… she’s genuinely a very nice & caring person; she’s always protected us whenever things happened, or we were threatened, or our lives were endangered…she was always there to protect us.

Angela: Okay, wow. She sounds like a really great role model. And do you think that you have a sense of nationality or origin, and do you think it might be different from that of your mom’s?

Winona: So I guess for most Asian Americans, I’ve tried to stray away from my uh culture, I guess…the Chinese culture…I try to be more American-like. So it’s not until recently that I tried to embrace um my parents being from Hong Kong and their culture. So it’s not until recently that I was interested in the history and where I came from; before I identified as just American…but now I can say that I am Chinese American.

Angela: I’m curious…what brought about the change? What made you think about identifying as Chinese American as instead of just American?

Winona: Um I guess when I saw my parents whenever something like Chinese New Year, I saw how much my mom really um cared about um what the people did, how they celebrated it…how happy they were to come from their country. My dad also really likes to talk about how great China is…I guess I liked uh seeing and I guess I appreciated them…um being so appreciative of the Chinese culture that I came from. I guess it gave me comfort knowing that I do have a place where I come from that helps me identify as a person and an individual

Angela: So what do you think it means to be American? That’s my next question.

Winona: I think that’s a hard question, um I feel like there’s no wrong answer – anyone can be an American no matter what race you are, no matter where you came from… if you’re straight, queer, whatever I think anyone can be an American…I don’t think there’s one right answer for it so I can’t say…exactly because I’m not even sure what it means to be an American… I guess being free and being uh I guess open minded and working toward our future um that will benefit…you know, us and the people around us…uh yeah I’m not too sure uh yeah I feel like anything can be a right answer

Angela: Yeah, and I ask this question for all of my interviewees because I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer either…I think it has to do with how you think about your identity…yeah, I don’t know how to answer that question either. So you mentioned that your identity changed recently because of your parents, and it gives you comfort to know where you come from, and you have a place of knowing where you come from. I’m wondering if you had the chance to visit the place your parents came from and if you would go back, and why.

Winona: So I have visited Hong Kong um three times now… um the first time was when I was 12 or 13… I’m not really sure…um at first I hated it because I thought that the culture was so different from American culture… so many people, it was crowded all the time…it was polluted… people didn’t seem as nice as they were in America… I guess it was because the space was so constricted there. It made me not like the place, but going the second time I think I liked it a bit more, maybe because I felt more comfortable being with [laughs] my people… I felt like this instant comfort whenever I talked to anybody… whenever I talked to anyone I was able to relate to people automatically. I guess it was this mutual understanding because we are both similar people and from Hong Kong and it gave us that trust we had. So I guess I became more comfortable talking to people from Hong Kong than America…and then the third time um I liked it more because um I got to see… before I was living in the suburbs but now I was living in the city… I liked it more because it was so convenient it was like Manhattan but times 2 the speed because everyone’s like here’s your dinner, here’s your food, like [laughs] so then I liked it a lot. It’s very convenient… there’s always food and shopping malls you go to Hong Kong… you eat and shop and you work … yeah I would definitely go again…I think Hong Kong is a great place although I’m a bit worried about the smog [chuckles]

Angela: Thank you so much, Winona. This brings me to my last question. Just for anyone reading your blog and your work – all these things that you told me about yourself that a complete stranger would see…what would you tell someone about you?

Winona: Can you explain the question again?

Angela: Is there anything you want to tell a complete stranger about you…like if you have any advice to tell them…they are reading your monologue, so they are reading your story. It could be about how you live your life or anything.

Winona: I guess travelling to Hong Kong…before I felt like there’s nothing going on around me; I was in a bubble and didn’t read the news a lot until I travelled and met the locals…I got to know some of the issues they were having in Hong Kong and China and it made me feel lost and guilty for not…knowing all these things that happened. I realized I have to be up to date with the news and read it and make sure I know what’s going on… I think it’s great you read the news… there’s no way it will prevent you from anything; it’s always going to benefit you, especially when you go for interviews… I learned after travelling… I learned to appreciate um space I guess [chuckles] because everything’s so tiny and expensive in Hong Kong, like a closet space would be a bedroom in Hong Kong. So then when I came back to America, I came back to my place, I  was like whoa I appreciate all the space I have in my room…I guess I appreciate things after travelling. Also I appreciate being raised by my mom all the little things, and being strong as a person…um I guess… don’t take things for granted no matter what.. I feel you can always find the good in something no matter how bad the situation is… so when things are rough, just know that there’s always going to be better things coming…even at the lowest point in your life, things will get better for sure, so I don’t think… if you’re going through something don’t give up yet. Just be strong and talk to your friends, definitely be open to talking with your friends cuz they don’t know what’s going on with you and if you can’t, you can always go for professional help you can always see a counselor…a therapist. Just know that to be happy…BE HAPPY!
Angela: Okay Winona. Thank you so much.  


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