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Bridging the Cultural Gap:  The Overseas-Asian Experience
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What is "Field Trip" in Chinese?

by Annabel Liu

Some wit once observed that a woman, no matter how extensive her wardrobe, always is in need of just one more outfit. As a writer, I am ready to testify that, to write anything, I can always use more more skills, more hard work, better ideas . . . The same is true about being a parent. Whatever qualities it takes, you need more.

I may as well admit it. I have found parenthood to be the single most difficult job, far more demanding than being a writer or a woman, which are no picnics, either.

For such a demanding job one would think nature would have devised a stringent system to screen out the unqualified. Reality is obviously otherwise. I attained parenthood, long on ignorance of its ramifications, short on "the right stuff" for handling the work.

I can still remember the two occasions when my husband and I brought our precious bundles home from the hospital. We were awestruck by the responsibility of rearing these fragile and vulnerable beings. In each case our awe soon gave way to shock.

Despite their physical helplessness, they had minds and wills of their own. When their desires did not coincide with ours, they did not hesitate to let us know about it. As tiny and tender as their skulls were, they were not timid about locking horns with us.

In those early confrontations between generations, one would assume we as parents would enjoy every unfair advantage. We were bigger, stronger, wiser, far more powerful than they were, and in many cases we were two against one. But we had one weakness: we wanted to do our conscientious best because they are our flesh and blood and we love them. We had to tread carefully for fear that, with one false move, they might be affected adversely for the rest of their lives.

If parenthood is not a piece of cake, the conflict of dual cultures certainly makes it doubly difficult. Many of our major confrontations seemed to center on that theme. The first one involved language.

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