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Scallops In My Suitcase

(by Olive Ho)

When I visit my family in Hong Kong, my mother sometimes puts Chinese ingredients—dried scallops, exotic mushrooms—in my suitcase for my return to New York City. Although she surely knows that the city where I live now is a bazaar of food cultures from all over the world, I think it may be her way of saying: Remember where you came from.

The United States has been my home for a decade now. I left Hong Kong at age 15 as part of an exchange student program—first living in New Mexico, then Washington State, then Wisconsin, where I graduated with a degree in marketing and finance before settling in Manhattan. It wasn’t easy for my parents to see me go off on this American odyssey: In Hong Kong, most young people live with their families until they are married. For a while, they called me every day. But they always supported my dreams, my goals, my sense of adventure.