My parents were born and raised in Hong Kong. When my mother was pregnant with me, she decided to have her second child with the Canadian health care system, and thus I was born in Toronto, Ontario, allowing me to make the claim that I am a full-fledged born and raised Canadian. After I was born, my parents went back to Hong Kong and we lived there until I was three years old. During my time in Hong Kong, I was a sick baby, so they decided to immigrate to Canada to give me a chance to breathe some fresh air. Combined with the fact that at the time, there were many political issues and uncertainty of Hong Kong being repatriated back to China, they decided that Canada was the best place to spend their remaining years.
When I was seven years old, my parents took me back to visit Hong Kong, and I only have a vague memory of it. All I can remember was how unbearably hot it was and how many mosquitoes made a meal out of me. There were also a lot of relatives who pinched my cheeks and gave me more attention than I wanted. I did not have favourable memory from that experience.
In 2008, after I had graduated from university, I went back for a visit as an adult. It was still unbearably hot and again, I saw a lot of relatives who gave me more attention than I wanted. But, there was something different about visiting Hong Kong as an adult… to see the actual city through an understanding that was where my parents came from, and the environment that shaped who they are as people, and its subsequently effect on my upbringing. I had a lot of fun exploring the city, and being the nerd that I am, my favourite part was visiting the Hong Kong History Museum.
I still look at the city in amazement of what it is. Maybe because I know the native language, or that because it was under British rule for so long and partially Westernized, I don’t have an aversion to the place I had rejected in my childhood anymore. Ever since my first visit in 2008, I have embraced some of Hong Kong culture, and even understand the cultural references when I watch TVB shows.
After all, without Hong Kong, my parents wouldn’t be who they are, and without them, I wouldn’t be who I am.