Jamma Jango

Dinner with my grandparents

Dinner with my grandparents

In my previous post, I mentioned how important it is for me to ensure my kids can communicate in Chinese to their non-English speaking relatives.  My maternal grandparents used to live in NY and I would see them often for family dinners.  They speak primarily Taiwanese, not Mandarin Chinese, so I usually need my mom to translate for me.  By the way, my grandparents are the cutest couple ever.  They are always happy!  But because of our language limitations, my conversations with my grandparents were usually pretty superficial.  They would say things like, “Oh, my beautiful granddaughter!”  “Did you eat yet?”  And I would say things like, “You look great!  How are you feeling?”  That was really the extent of our conversations.

A couple years ago, when I was pregnant with Rockstar -- Hubz and I met my mom and my grandparents for dinner.  My mom told me they were thinking about moving back to Taiwan and I started to feel sad that I wouldn’t get to see my grandparents as often as I did.  I regretted that I didn’t spend enough time learning more about them and what life was like for them growing up.  So during dinner, I asked my mom to translate a bunch of questions for me and I learned all about my grandparents’ life in Taiwan before they came to the U.S. 

My grandparents married at the age of 19 and had 7 kids.  Since my grandfather was the oldest son in the family, my grandmother helped to take care of his younger siblings too.  He had 13 brothers and sisters!  I also learned all about my grandfather’s career and what Taiwan was like post World War II.  It was one of the most fascinating and enlightening conversations I’ll ever remember. 

Shortly after my grandparents moved back to Taiwan, my grandfather passed away.  I will always be grateful for the last time I saw him before he left.  That’s why it became so important to me that my kids learn Chinese.  I don’t want them to be limited to one or two family dinners where they suddenly realize they know nothing about their ancestors.  I want them to be able to speak to their non-English speaking relatives on a regular basis without any language barriers.  It also got me thinking about how much rich history there is to learn about my family.  So I wrote down a bunch of questions and asked my mom to fill it out so I can pass on the information to my kids and grandkids.  I don’t want any of that history to get lost. 

So how about you?  Do you know a lot about your own family history and the story of your grandparents’ lives?  If not, I’d be happy to share the list of questions I came up with.  Click here to download a sample list of questions you can ask your family members.  You can use them to ask your parents and grandparents about their life story.  I’m sure they have lived very interesting lives as well!

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