Lost in Translation

Emily - Poway, California
Entered on March 3, 2008

Stuck in Translation

I am yellow. Huh?

I’m yellow, although I like green better, I am yellow

I’m yellow because of my skin tone, my Asian roots, my half-moon-shaped eyes, my accent, and also because it is the scientific definition of Asian Homo Sapiens

I am not white enough to be just American, for that, I became a yellow American.

Two summers ago, my mother had sent me on a trip to Taiwan. I was so thrilled; it was my first independent trip to a place 15 hours away. And I love it, because it was the only time in my life where I am not a minority; I would fit right in with my yellowness.


While in Taiwan, I became infamously known as King Kong (yes, the giant monkey), because of my tallness (I’m only 5’6 by the way), my largeness (115 pounds), and also because I am tan. My uncle joked with me once that if there were two lines, one for whites and the other for blacks, I would most certainly blend in with the black crowd. To them, I was not yellow, but white, a westerner, an American, an ABC (American Born Chinese), I was everything but yellow.

I experienced a lot of firsts on my trip, like my first ride on a metro. I remembered, as I was trying to get out of the metro station through the turnstile, a middle-aged man came sprinting towards my direction, yelling, “KA, KA, KA!” Before I knew it, I ended up in the security room. The man was trying to tell me, “Card, Card, Card,” because I hadn’t pay for a card that was needed to get out of the station.

The man cursed to his colleague, apparently, I caused a lot of trouble. What he didn’t realize was that I could understand him. He said,

“Americans, always trying to steal money…wear short…tank tops…SCANDALOUS!” So now, I’m an American? I’m not Chinese? If I am not yellow, then what am I?

My life had hit a Juggernaut wall that summer. I was not allowed to reenter American because of a passport problem. The wall was too high to climb over and too wide to go around.

There were no schools for me to attend. No American schools in Taiwan will accept me because I was not American by law, and no Taiwanese school will accept me because I did not take the Taiwanese High School Entrance Exam.

I couldn’t go to school in Taiwan, and I couldn’t go back to the states and attend Poway High.

Tell me, where do I fit in?

Without my friends and mashed potatoes, I was nothing. I was Nemo, a drop of water in the ocean.

The longer I was in Taiwan, the less yellow I was. I was…countryless.

I skipped a year of school because of it. I was held back. No longer Class of 08, I couldn’t graduate with my friends…

For the first time in my life, I could not see yellow.

I see blue, red, and white.

And that is my true color, and that is what I believe in.