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What The American Dream Means To Chinese Restaurant Families

 

Those iconic waxy, folded white Chinese takeout boxes have become so ubiquitous in America, they’re nearly as recognizable as the golden arches.

But these cartons are so much more than an emblem of Asian-American fast food. They are symbols of struggle, entrepreneurship, and the will to make it in a country far from home.

What The American Dream Means To Chinese Restaurant Families

QINGWAI WONG AND PAUL WAGTOUICZ

Behind these Chinese restaurants are families that are rarely highlighted ― the immigrants who put down roots in the country, desperate to achieve their own American dream.

For many first-generation immigrants, working in those restaurants were a way to provide for their children in a strange land where the job industry felt almost impossible to crack without extensive educations.

However, amid the produce, fortune cookies and nights spent in front of the wok, these families ended up forging a sub-culture among Asian-Americans. We chatted with two members of Chinese restaurant families who grew up in demographically different areas.

QingWai Wong, 25, grew up in working at her family’s restaurant in Manchester, Connecticut, and later Norwich ― towns without significant Asian-American populations. Wong noted that she often felt reduced to her family’s restaurant identity and had, at times, felt a sense of shame because of it.  Read More

 

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