what’s a boloh?

boloh-logoHi, I’m Andrea Wong.  I write under the *boloh* alias for a variety of reasons.  First, andreawong.com was taken.  For some reason, it’s this random computer website that doesn’t appear to have any link to a person or owner named Andrea Wong.  Weird.

Second, the term *boloh* actually means “pineapple” in cantonese.  When I was young, every night my father would cut up fruit for us.  But this wasn’t just a chop and go affair.  He would painstakingly cut out every single trace of boloh skin, dice mangoes into cubes, peel the skin off oranges and kiwi so that we’d have the mecca of fruit medley every single night.    For a time, he went through this boloh phase, and I ended up eating so much pineapple that my tongue had splinters.  But here’s the thing: none of my Canadian (caucasian) friends at school ate fruit at night like it was a ritual.   They thought that was weird.  They also didn’t have their moms bringing them hot lunches in rice bowls everyday.  Try trading pork chops for pb&j.

I grew up in a world where I was the only one who had parents who painstakingly and lovingly peel fruit for me every night, who demanded where the remaining 3% went when I brought home a 97% grade, who dreamed about sending me to MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, etc. for university, who sat through piano lessons, speech theory lessons, and math tutoring lessons with me every week.   I grew up in smalltown Ontario.  And as a result, I’m an over-achieving, overly-polite yet thoroughly opinionated, tech-minded, incredibly [financially, emotionally] stable, professional who still calls home every night even though I’m a grown woman.  I despise hello kitty, wanted to die my hair blond when i was ten, and can only speak about 20 words in chinese.  I thought I was the only one.

Turns out, I’m not.  Go to Toronto, and you’ll see that first-generation CBCs/ABCs (Canadian/American born chinese) are a fast-growing subculture in North American society.   While everything you know about us might come from the pages of the Joy Luck Club, I’m here to explore all the things you don’t know.  The truth is, the american-born asian worldview is completely unique.   Like any other subculture, we deal with the nuances of political, religious, economic, and social issues apart from our purely north american as well as completely asian counterparts.  Many people who have parents from two distinct cultures can relate.  The significance in creating a blog dedicated to providing commentary on such issues through the lens of the american-born asian identiy is that the american-born asian represents an entirely new electoral demographic that continues to grow bigger and bigger everyday.   Given our often substantial education, I expect to see more american-born asians enter into positions of leadership around the world, in both the private and public sector.   Nonetheless, our view on issues is currently under-represented in the media today and our influence in the Board Room and Congress/House of Representatives has been underwhelming.

I am currently a graduate student at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, completing a Master’s degree in Public Administration.   I am also a freelance journalist, and the lead editor of The Morningside Post.  I have chosen to write about a variety of issues that I encounter including asian-american views on technology, leadership, development, governance, international relations between asia and the americas, and of course the mainstay of asian american subculture: food.   Cheers!

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