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Welcome to ONE WORLD: Chinese Adoptee Links (CAL G2 est. 2007) Blog!

FOUNDED BY A GROUP OF EIGHT, YOUR ONE WORLD HOSTS ERIN, ANGELA GEE, JAZZ, JEANNETTE LOAKMAN, JENNIFER BAO YU 'PRECIOUS JADE' JUE-STEUCK, DR. MEI-MEI AKWAI ELLERMAN, AND SABRINA SPAN 3 CONTINENTS and REPRESENT 6 GENERATIONS of CHINESE ADOPTEES. (scroll down for more details)

They Think I'm Chinese!

They Think I'm Chinese!
[LEFT] "ON ME PRENDS POUR UNE CHINOISE" ("They Think I'm Chinese!") - a Film by Nicole Giguère & "CHINEAS GIRLS" art from IRELAND by Lin Ye, age 4 [RIGHT]

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sometimes Family Isn't Enough: The Gift of Being One with the Self and the Universe





Musings. 

My Family, immediate and extended-through adoption, "unofficial adoption," and mentoring, dwell at the center of my life. Given my age, my grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles have long since departed. However, my adult children, their partners, grandchildren, god-children, cousins, sisters and brothers of the heart [many discovered in the adoption community, others dating back to my early school years], and beloved friends, all offer incomparable love and comfort, as well as expected challenges and concerns. No matter how far away, a mere word by email, a card, phone call, or just thoughts traveling via the ether never fail to bring a smile, radiant inner warmth, JOY. 

Equally important for me is the luxury of being on my own, to revel in absolute quiet and solitude, especially when immersed in or surrounded by the beauty of nature. The deep connection with the skies above me, whether brilliant blue, menacingly dark and thunderous, streaked by a rainbow or pulsating with aurora borealis, is indescribably affirming. The same holds true when gazing out upon turquoise crystal clear ocean waters, or roiling waves that unleash the fury of the underworld; vast expanses of gently rolling fields, snow-capped mountain tops, craggy peaks that soar above the clouds, forests dappled with faint sun rays, the night sky flickering with billions of stars or awash with the glow of the full moon. To feel whole when alone is essential. It means that you will never be lonely, bored, fearful, rooted to an unchangeable past or projected uniquely towards a questionable future. Just being, in the moment, breathing contentment is one of life's greatest blessings. Even if the experience only lasts several minutes, it allows one to ground oneself, recharge, and be ready to re-engage in family and societal relationships. 

Wishing you many such moments throughout life, to come to know yourself, be comfortable with who you are, grow...  Achieving this form of practice- inner stillness and serenity- will also further enrich your close "family" connections as you follow your chosen path. When speaking of "Family," I am alluding to family members in the broadest terms...

With much love. Remember. If you feel like connecting with me, I am here to listen to you. 

Mei-Mei


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Off to See the Puffins!





A brief share about an upcoming birthday trip I am planning for my daughter and husband. From earliest memory, our family has been fascinated and enchanted by puffins. Approximately 10 inches high, the Atlantic puffins [smaller than their cousins, the Horned, Tufted and Rhinoceros puffins], look somewhat like penguins, except for their distinctive curved beaks with a steel-blue base that turn brilliant orange during mating season- spring and summer- and their orange webbed feet. Extremely fast swimmers, they use their wings to stroke underwater in a flying motion. Equally swift in the air, flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute, they can reach speeds of over 50 miles per minute.

We are heading for a small island off of Grand Manan in New Brunswick, Canada that hosts about 10,000 birds. Puffins live in colonies and settle on high, rocky cliffs during the three month-long mating season. The rest of the year they live at sea. Life-long mates, every spring they seek out their chosen companion and return to the same nesting area, even if they don't spend the whole winter together. The parents line their nests with grass and feathers and take turns incubating the single egg laid by the female, which takes about 40 days to hatch. By the age of 7 weeks, the wee puffin is ready to take off on its own!

Stay tuned for live accounts and many photos at the end of the first week of August!

Hope that everyone is having a lovely, fun and productive summer. Would welcome some posts from you, updating us on your activities or joining our community/family if you have never posted before.

Love,
Mei-Mei




Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Upcoming Anthology, #FliptheScript, Features 50 Writers and Artists!

Thrilled to share with you the list of contributors to #FliptheScript, newest An-Ya Project publication due out in the Fall. We are excited to have gathered so many talented voices and beautiful art work, from far and near. Will keep you updated!


# Flip the Script: Adult Adoptee Anthology
We would like extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who submitted a piece 
to this anthology. The response was truly astounding. 
It was an honor to receive each and every piece for consideration. 
We spent many hours contemplating and discussing each piece 
we received. Thank you for trusting us with your work.
We are very excited to announce our final contributors below. 
It is our hope that you will join us in congratulating our final 
contributors. We welcome your continued support of this
 tremendous publication! Keep an eye out for us in print this 
Fall 2015!
With Thanks,
Co-editors) 
Diane René Christian, Rosita González, Amanda Transue-Woolston
FINAL CONTRIBUTORS
TRACY AABEY-HAMMOND,  KEVIN MINH ALLEN,  
LEIGHA BASINI, MI OK BRUINING, NICOLE J. BURTON,  
ANNA CAVANAGH, LARRY CLOW,  LAURA COTTER,  
JOSHUA CROME, AMIRA ROSE DAVIS,  
APRIL DINWOODIE,  MEI-MEI AKWAI ELLERMAN, PHD
CECILIA HEIMEE FLUMÉ,  SHANNON GIBNEY,  
ROSITA GONZÁLEZ, SARAH ELIZABETH GREER,  
LYNN GRUBB,  JAMIE HARRIS,
JODI HAYWOOD,  NAM HOLTZ,  SUSAN ITO,  
SOOJUNG JO, STEPHEN DAVID JOHNSON,  
CATHERINE A. JOHNSTON , MELISSA DAE SOOK KIM,
MILA C. KONOMOS,  ADEL KSK,  LUCY CHAU LAI-TUEN, 
WENDY M. LAYBOURN, KATIE HAE LEO,  
ELIZABETH COLE,  MARCUS C. MALTEMPO
KIMBERLY MCKEE, PHD,  GRACE NEWTON,  
KAYE PEARSE, ZARA PHILLIPS,  MATTHEW SALESSES,  
CHRISTINE SATORY,  LIZ SEMONS,
BEATA SKONECKI, LMSW,  SUSAN HARRIS O'CONNOR,
JULIE STROMBERG,  ANNEGHEW WALL,
DARYN WATSON,  DIANE WHEATON , CHRISTOPHER WILSON,  
JOE SOLL  , LCSW

Monday, July 6, 2015

Exhibt on Chinese American Exclusion/Inclusion Act, NY Historical Society




 


In the middle of April, I spent 6 exhilarating days in NYC. My main reason for making the trip just before my departure for Europe, was to catch a highly touted exhibit at the NY Historical Society on the Chinese Exclusion Act [1882]. As it was closing on April 19th, I was aware that I had no choice but to move quickly. It was worth the entire trip! Beautifully and thoughtfully mounted, the exhibit explained and illustrated in detail why the influx of thousands upon thousands of Chinese laborers brought in to build the Transcontinental Railroad ended up in the drafting of the Exclusion Act, the first and only legislation aimed at excluding immigrants of a specific race.





As one walked through the exhibit, one entered into the very lives of the early immigrants from the moment they stepped off the ship after weeks of harrowing travel. Held for days, sometimes months in close quarters [the reproductions of rooms, sparsely furnished with strict essentials, quarters separated by gender], everyone went through the grueling and often humiliating process of medical examinations and interrogation by immigration authorities.










Poetry





Times Change: Just a few examples of Great Successes










And soooo many more...! 

We can be infinitely proud of the amazing accomplishments of Chinese Americans across the decades, and I am sure each and every one of you, One Worlders, will contribute in your own way to making the world a better place. 

Love,
Mei-Mei









Sunday, July 5, 2015

Venice, La Serenissima- the Most Serene Republic: As Beautiful as Ever



Recently spent a week in Venice visiting one of my oldest friends- we have known each other since we were 10, many many decades ago. As a child [I grew up in Italy from age 9-20], we spent almost every Easter vacation in Venice. Can still hear the bells, each one with an identifiable ring, vying with each other in an electrifying symphony.

Just wanted to share a few photos with you. Venice at different times of the day and from various vantage points. Enjoy!

Though the Biennale was in full swing, I didn't visit the main exhibits. I preferred to seek refuge from the searing heat in my favorite churches, the Doge's Palace and concert halls. The only exception were the four hours standing in broiling sun to watch the yearly Palio of the Four Maritime Republics [commemoration of Medieval rivalries celebrated by a boat race preceded by a two-hour procession of hundreds of participants in full costume. Breathtaking! Venice won the race to everyone's delight!




















Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Magical Chinese Ballerina: Where Does She Put It All?! and Making Magic from a Blank Wall



Dear One Worlders,

I recently came across these two videos and thought that you would appreciate them. The first one shows that ... Has Talent has reached across geographical and political divides. This particular performance showcases a very gifted young dancer with an extra something up her sleeve. Her grace and flawless execution of a dazzling act, left judges speechless and entire audience in awe. Enjoy. You will probably have to copy and past link in your browser.

http://viduki.com/video/18937/Where_does_she_keep_it_all



The second one stands out for its sheer artistry and magical effect. No Chinese connection but then art is universal. What must have been a long and painstaking process is compressed into a mere 9 minutes, but they fly by as one is so entranced, and sitting on the edge of one's seat, knowing yet wanting to see how the scene will come to life!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9trD4P47ms

Wishing everyone a very happy summer. Please share some of your experiences, thoughts and dreams for the future!

Love to all,
Mei-Mei

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day: Reflections



MOTHER'S DAY...
A day to remember and honor all mothers,
in spirit, whether related by blood or not,
Women who have nurtured and raised us, 
held us in their embrace and loved us unconditionally.
Women whose faces and scent are familiar to us as our own.
Women who have loved us from afar,
only able to imagine who we have become
as we have conjured up their images in our minds,
have fantasized about them, aching for the unknown,
yet feeling mysteriously and inexorably connected.
Women who have inspired us through their deeds and words,
in history, literature, science,and the arts,
whether our contemporaries, our ancestors,
or mythical figures from the remote past.
All these women are our Mothers,
whom we honor and revere each day.
But let us also remember our Mother sans pareil,
Mother Nature, who has sustained and provided for us all,
The Giver of Life, of the air we breathe,
the water we drink, the soil upon which we tread,
the beauty which surrounds us to quench
our thirsting souls during our brief, arduous,
yet intoxicating sojourn on this planet.
Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman, May 10, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

Remembering My Maman

May 10th, 2015

Her presence is ubiquitous. Her mellifluous voice wafts towards me on the cold travertine hearth where I sit, alone with thousands of memories. At any moment I expect her to appear at my side and envelope me in her loving embrace.
 
How is it possible that 21 years have slipped by since we held our last silent conversation, I perched on the edge of her bed? A warm August breeze filled the room with the heady scent of lavender. The silence, more eloquent than any exchange of words, eased my heart. Sacred, timeless. Her hands cradled in mine, translucent from age, radiated wondrous energy. She emitted an ethereal aura as she gently approached the end of her journey.

We were meant to be together in this life. She found me and fought for me when I was 7 months old. She stood by me throughout, my champion, my inspiration, my source of strength and compassion.


I feel her breath upon my tear-streaked cheek. She is with me, forever. My beloved Maman.


[Written at Il Vallone, Tuscany where my mother lived from 1970 to 1999. She was 94 when she departed].




Finding Magic in The World


Hello all,
I apologize for not writing in a while. College can get pretty busy.
So I have a quick fun story for you all. Recently, my family spread my grandma's ashes into our garden, because my grandma loves gardens, and we wanted her to be apart of ours, as well. A day or two ago my dad noticed some pink tulips  growing in the garden that were never planted there before, and because tulips are bulbs, they cannot just randomly start growing. Coincidentally, my grandmothers favorite flower was a pink tulip, and they used to grow around my dads old house in NY, while he was growing up. This is why I believe there is a certain power and sort of magic in the world that us humans do not understand yet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Evening with Maxine Hong Kingston at Columbia University


Maxine Hong Kingston, April 20, 2015, Columbia

I came to New York primarily for two reasons: to see the fabulous exhibit at the New York Historical Society on the Chinese Exclusion/Inclusion Act [next post!] and to hear Maxine Hong Kingston whose books I hold close to my heart and with whom I have a special bond. 

Despite pouring rain and encroaching fog, I made my way to the Columbia Univ. campus and finally managed to find the Lecture Hall which was filled with devotees of all ages. Maxine Hong Kingston spoke as part of  the Heyman Center Writing Lives Series and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race's Artist at the Center Series. Journalist, anti-war activist and acclaimed author, recipient of many awards, she paved the way for Chinese American writers with the publication of her extraordinary memoir The Warrior Woman: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. It was followed by China Men, equally enthralling, thereby completing what the author considered a larger work. The two deeply personal books were followed by novels stemming from the desire to change genres and speak from a different place with a different voice. 

This evening, Maxine read from her major works, sharing parts of her journey and her writing process. Not surprisingly, she began writing at a very early age- her practice years as she calls them- always drafting first in pencil, then moving to a fountain pen, and finally transferring her words to the computer. She considers writing in pen part of the creative process- she owns 15 fountain pens, some extremely valuable. 

After losing a finished manuscript [fiction], to a devastating fire that burned all her belongings and razed her house to the ground, Maxine pulled back from fiction, unable and unwilling to express her pain and feelings through invented characters when they were so deeply connected to her personal experience. Nor had she any desire to recreate what she had lost: "Writing is going into the new..."

The audience was mesmerized by the powerful and luminous presence of an author who at age 74 is keenly aware of the passage of time, its effect on her physical appearance [wrinkles, lines, her white hair, all mentioned with great humor], and of how little time may be left for her both as an activist and a writer. Yet I was struck by her youthful spirit, her energy and drive. She has many more gifts to share with her readership and human kind. 
After hugging in a spirit of sisterhood, it was hard to pull away and slip out into the misty night that in the space of hours, had transformed the City into an almost ghostly world. 

Love, Mei-Mei 
If you haven't read Maxine's work, I encourage you to start with The Woman Warrior and China Men. May they change your lives as they did mine.



Columbia University, shrouded in fog

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rooted to Resiliency: On Mother Dreams...(in loving memory of my Mom, Janet Jue, 1941-1999)


Dear Sisters,

Yesterday would have been my (adoptive) mother's birthday. I was 19 when she was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. I watched her die beside me under our living room Christmas tree, and do you know that I have never been the same? It is one thing to lose a birthmother, and another to watch your (adoptive) mother die beside you. Do you think that I miss her?

Part of being rooted to resiliency (for me) is learning how to be in connection...even whilst living in disconnection. How can you keep your own connections active and alive (even, and especially, in the face of great adversity), thus keeping yourself alive in most vital ways?

Much Love,

Jennifer


"ON MOTHER DREAMS...."

I dream about having a Mother.

Some people may dream about their favourite sports car, or winning the lotto, or becoming famous or about their retirement.  I dream of none of these things.

Instead, my dreams consist of much smaller things, such as...



  • Telling my mother that (yes!), I finally finished something that I was afraid to do...
  • Sharing a laugh together, or a memory.
  • Inviting her to my birthday party each year (she always used to get me an ice cream cake).
  • Telling her that I graduated from Harvard (I'm the first person in my adoptive family to have ever gone to Harvard) and being able to invite her to the ceremony.
  • Calling her when things go wrong, like when I accidentally had to be rushed to an emergency room in Norway after falling over my ankle running through a wild Norwegian forest.
  • Bumping into her randomly in the middle of the day on the street (this is one of my most common dreams).
  • Sitting together in a theatre.
  • Smiling together for a photograph.
  • Saying goodnight...or good morning.
  • Telling her how my day went, and listening to hers.
  • Remembering together, and letting her remind me of things I used to do when I was small...
  • Holding hands.
  • Sharing hugs.
  • Going to clothing stores and trying on outfits together.
  • Telling her about my latest writing project, about my Ph.D. research...
  • Inviting her to travel with me (this year I really wish I could invite her to Paris to do a writer's workshop on memoir writing, which I know she would have loved).
  • Rubbing noses together, and comparing the shape of our toes (so very different looking since we are not genetically related, of course).  Mom was tall, thin and gorgeous; I am short, petite and look absolutely nothing like my (adoptive) beautiful Mom.
  • Helping her decorate her summer house in Maine (now sold and gone).
  • Sharing my writing with her, and giving her feedback on hers.
  • Being able to celebrate Mother's Day.
  • Overhearing someone say, "I'm so proud of my daughter."
  • Even getting annoyed with one another -- I miss this as well.
  • Just being able to pick up a phone -- anywhere, anytime -- and being able to call her.
  • Telling her about life in London...

I once read about a lady who also lost her Mom whose greatest wish was just to have her mom back for one day to be able to do mom-and-daughter things together. Just one day. One last day.

I cried reading that article.  
Because I never ever even dared to dream of an entire day with mom. That would seem so greedy. So grand. So rich.  

It's just these little moments that I dream about the most, miss, yearn for, tenderly remember or witness between other moms and daughters...and wonder, "Who would I be without you, Mom?"

And also, I wonder, "Who will I become now that you're not here?"

It's small dreams like these -- of every day, oh-so-ordinary-but-extradordinary moments -- that I long for the most.


(Cross-posted in The Lost Daughters Blog)

"Nowhere to Call Home," a Powerful Documentary on a Tibetan Woman's Journey to Freedom, by Jocelyn Ford




Documentary Film by Jocelyn Ford

Dear One Worlders,

For several years my daughter Mei-Ling, both a Fulbright and Boren Scholar, ran her own research project on Chinese women migrant workers who left their families in rural China to work as domestics in Beijing. She interviewed over 100 women, at first finding them in public parks or via word of mouth. She later did in depth interviews, focusing on the life stories as well as work experience of a smaller number of workers for her PhD thesis.

During her years in Beijing she became close friends with an American journalist, Jocelyn Ford, who
did reporting for NPR and was a long-time ex-pat who had settled in the capital. I too came to know Jocelyn both on a social and professional level. She introduced us to Zanta, the protagonist of what would become the amazing documentary that is being shown around the US, in some European countries and in China. At the time, Zanta was struggling to sell jewelry on the streets of Beijing while ensuring that her son, with Jocelyn's help, was enrolled in a good school. Every decision she made went against the patriarchal dictates of her family and village elders.

On April 21st and 22nd, "Nowhere to Call Home, A Tibetan in Beijing" is being screened at the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, in Vanderbilt Hall, located at 40 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012. Time: 4:00PM, in case any readers live in NYC. I have registered for the first screening myself. Look forward to seeing both Jocelyn and Zanta and am thrilled to see the finished documentary versus just the snippets viewed over time. I will report back on this event as well as on a presentation by Maxine Hong Kingston at Columbia University for the Writing Lives series! 
Screenings of "Nowhere to Call Home" in the US, Europe and in China, have received rave reactions by audiences and reviews. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/movies/nowhere-to-call-home-examines-prejudices.html

http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalDevelopment/news/2015/Film-Screening-Tibetan-in-Beijing.aspx

Trailer:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/movies/nowhere-to-call-home-examines-prejudices.html

Love, Mei-Mei