A.C.E. staff are born in Israel, Germany, or Iran; they went to graduate school in the UK or grew their career for years in Holland or Russia; they spent entire high school classes in Peru, Japan, Brazil. The professionalism and U.S.-savvy of an A.C.E. face hides behind it an understanding of life outside this country. This makes every interaction with an international student personal, every overseas partner a fellow citizen of an explored globe, and stretches to every level of the offices.
Marketing Intern Weston Cooper is all of this. With a Taiwanese mother and an American father, he attended Chinese-language public school in Taipei until 9th grade, then had instruction in English through high school. Perfectly fluent, he completed his B.A. at the University of Washington in China Studies and Anthropology and took his first internship at A.C.E. Eight months into nuanced, professional translations and insights into the Chinese market, he writes this report of being bi-cultural and going home February for the biggest holiday of the year:
The Lantern Festival on February 24th marked the 15th day of the first lunar month and the official end of Chinese New Year. That day Chinese people all over the world celebrated with fantastic displays of lanterns, lights, and floats while enjoying glutinous rice balls (called yuanxiao or tangyuan) and solving “lantern puzzles” with their family.
I went home to Taipei for two weeks to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family. On New Year’s Eve, we gathered for dinner, made offerings to our ancestors, and stayed up late to welcome the arrival of the New Year. As children received money in red envelopes from elders in exchange for blessings for the New Year, we played with firecrackers and ate until we were overstuffed.
I found that much of the celebrations remained the same as when I was growing up, but I noticed that like with Christmas in the U.S., stores and restaurants that used to be closed for New Years now stay open. Taipei, a sleepless bustling city, once became a deserted town over Chinese New Year as people returned to the country to be with family, but now shops remained open and the crowds flooded back into the city much quicker. At the night markets, the unending flow of people is only described as “people mountain people sea” (人山人海).
Though it was only a short two-week break, being home was a great way to recharge and to re-familiarize myself with my heritage. I am happy to have been fortunate enough to go home to celebrate the New Year, and hope that Chinese A.C.E. students spending New Year’s away from home were able to celebrate with their friends and have some good food. Wishing everyone a prosperous and joyous Year of the Snake!