By Katrina Liu

As an ABC (American-born Chinese), I feel like I get the best of both worlds. I get the wonderful liberties and freedoms of being an American, and also the experience of Chinese culture. With two Chinese immigrant parents, I grew up in a household that is a blend of the two cultures. 

Until recently, I didn’t realize how lucky I am to have both perspectives and to have grown up with a mix of cultural values. This realization led me to an epiphany about who I am and how my background has played a role in the values I find important.

Despite coming back from winter break just a week before the holiday, I promised my mother I would go home for our Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner. I didn’t even think about that decision. It was a no brainer. My mom’s family is still in China and my dad is currently there for work, so the least my brother and I could do was spend the annual holiday with them. 

As I watched my mom tirelessly prepare wonderful dishes for our Lunar New Year dinner, she never complained about any part of the process. In fact, for the 30 years she’s had kids, she hasn’t complained once. Her strength is something I hope to have throughout my life. 

Part of the Lunar New Year is receiving red envelopes with money inside, called hong bao, which symbolizes good luck. My mom started giving me hong baos ever since I can remember, even when I was away on a trip with friends or with school, and even right now when I’m away at college. “Buy yourself some coffee,” she always says. I say thank you every time, but I wish I could say more because thank you doesn’t seem like enough.

Lunar New Year is when I reflect about how important my family is to me. My parents have sacrificed so much for my brother and myself to receive more opportunities than they did growing up. They were willing to move to a new country across the globe, learn a new language and adapt to a new culture just so their children could achieve their full potential in a country they dreamt about living in. 

So, after this year’s celebration, I made a promise to myself: my parents have always been people of actions, not words. Part of that is Chinese culture and part of it is just who they are as people. I made a promise to myself that I would thank my parents by making them proud of me in whatever way possible. I will make them proud by taking advantage of the opportunities that they didn’t have when they were my age, because it’s what they deserve and what they want for their children.