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When the travel ban was first announced, I was studying abroad in Berlin and preparing to fly to Boston for an undergraduate conference. I’m from Hong Kong, not from any of the banned countries, but emails sent from my American college’s International Student and Scholar Office warning us to minimize unnecessary travels outside of the United States still triggered my worries. I knew that this would not be the last of the changes that...
My parents arrived in America in the 1980s. They emigrated from China—godless, chaotic, Communist China—a place that was reeling from decades of turmoil, struggling to orient itself after the death of a leader who loomed larger than God. They’d least expect to encounter characteristics of that China in their new home, in one of the world’s most developed countries, nearly three decades later. Both my mother and my father came of age in Shanghai during...
My grandfather's origin story reads like a Horatio Alger myth: born to a poor family, hungry, resilient, determined to forge a better life for himself, he worked his way up through the ranks of a logging company—laborer, estimator, lead forester. While running a crew on a large property in the countryside, he met the teenage daughter of the estate owner; there, in the glow of the summer woods, the young forester, Eliyahu, and my...
I was a junior in college when I first read the Toni Morrison quote that goes “In this country, American means white. Everyone else has to hyphenate.” I remember the sting I felt reading it in my African-American literature course. It seeped into my consciousness for the remainder of that day, of that week, of that year. I had signed up for the course to discover more black writers. The books we read and...

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