As someone who confesses to be an international citizen, I cannot help but reflect on my origins while also meditating on certain cultural issues.
Often metaphorised as a dragon, China has providing me with food and shelter for the past 18 years. The fact that the country is a rising dragon that has woken up from a humiliating slumber might be perceived as relevant, since living standards are constantly improving. In China's modern society, we can see that technology assists in cultural preservation. Yet, certain issues also arise alongside China's growing modernity, as I observed when tracing my family history.
Surely I can be categorised as a Beijinger, for I was born and raised in this city. Yet, I also belong to Hong Kong, where two generations of my family have worked. In general, these two mega cities are developed and westernised to a large extent; it is arguable that though innovative measures have been taken to reassess and mollify cultural loss, modernity has also resulted in the loss of traditions like the Hutongs in Beijing.
Let us take a look at another location that I belong to: Zhejiang province, which has witnessed the glory of some of China's most famous writers and where the beautiful West Lake resides. In small towns serenely encompassed by rivers, people's favorite pastime has shifted from reading the daily paper to watching television and surfing the Internet. Cultural traditions has become less identifiable in urban areas, though still well-preserved in smaller towns and villages, where cultural richness continues to define the identity of future generations.
Though from the "dragon's den," I am sometimes regarded as a third-culture kid, for I have long been in an international environment, especially after I enrolled in an international IB school in Beijing almost four years ago.
During the summer and autumn of 2011, I seized the opportunity to travel to Oxford, Stratford upon-Avon, and Haworth. The experience was so engaging that I started to see myself as someone who "comes from" those places, since I have returned to the dragon's den with broadened perspectives.
Yes, I come from the moors. Please do not arrest my imagination, for I am the apparition of Emily Bronte, just as Catherine is Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Soaring above the moors, which appear barren yet contain lively tales of passionate love and wild revenge, the phantom of Bronte spoke - a language unknown to mankind, yet comprehensible to spirits! All hail, fantastical imaginations, sacred ecstasy!
Yes, I once came from the peaceful town of Stratford-upon-Avon. The cultural identity of this tranquil town in Warwickshire is almost wholly shaped by William Shakespeare, the famous bard who proposed that "all the world is a stage." Perhaps we are indeed all involved in the dramatic plays of the world, and that is simply our origins. But if we are all controlled by powerful individuals such as Shakespeare, then is it even pragmatic for us to discover our authentic cradles? Perhaps only Shakespeare's lonely ghost-like figure can respond to this musing.
And indeed, I returned to China from Oxford, the "city of dreaming spires," where rigid customs splendidly blend with contemporary symbols. Dreaming spires savor their sensations in the dawning darkness, as the scholars' breaking discoveries continue to empower and inspire the world. This is a unique form of culture, whose windows are constructed of firm academic rigor and vigor.
Inspiration comes out of tranquility, in my own case. Thus, the two trips to England last year enabled me to be more globalized as a third-culture kid, who nevertheless cautiously keeps tradition in mind. As paradoxical as it may sound, I earnestly convey one single message: Dear readers, please contemplate your own origins fully and critically.