The Trouble With ‘Waipo’ During My Summer Vacation in China

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The summer had come and gone quicker than I ever expected. This summer by far was the best summer I had as a student. I traveled a lot in China and most of it was not paid for by me. First I did a summer camp job in Zhejiang province, then went to visit a friend in Hunan, then to Yunnan with my friend and her family, and last to Chongqing for a quick visit.

During my travels, I had some problems, but not too many. One of the problems was Waipo. Waipo means maternal-grandmother in Mandarin Chinese. Even though I am not married to a Chinese man, I do have a Chinese family. Waipo is my Chongqing brother’s grandma. I’ve known my brother for almost ten years and so his family is like my own. (Nothing romantic at all, I have someone else in the picture!)

Waipo and Waigong (grandpa) are really hospitable and your typical Chinese grandparents that want to make sure you are well-fed and happy. However, I am fiercely independent and showed my independence while spending time with them.

After Yunnan, I had Lao Har (老汉儿), which is Chongqing dialect for father, come to pick me up from the train station. We immediately went to Fairy Maiden Mountain (仙女山). It was my second time going and was looking forward to the cool mountain weather again. The reason I went up the mountain was because my brother was not in Chongqing during the time I was there.

However, I knew that when we arrived, Waipo was going to feed me…a lot. I went to Hainan during Spring Festival and Waipo fed me so much in Hainan that I gained about 3 kilos!

We argued about how much I should eat. But, it wasn’t always about food we talked about. She discussed how much she dislikes my hair, about how much meat I have on my bones, and how I should go for walks more to help me lose weight.

Fortunately, I had to remind myself that she is a woman from an older generation and that I had to not think too critically of what she says. After some discussions with some friends, I had decided to just ignore it for the entire duration of my stay. Luckily, I was able to go down to the city after six days of being in the mountains.

Even though I am not married into a Chinese family, it feels like I am sometimes.

Therefore, I want to tell the women who are married into families of different cultures, you are amazing the way you are.

Holly Hollins

Holly Hollins is an American from Michigan and currently a graduate student in Shanghai. Besides studying, she enjoys writing stories pertaining to WWAM couples and also LGBT themes. She is involved in the LGBT community in Shanghai and a member of Lesqueers. Holly also is a big advocate for autism and does professional presentations on the topic in China and in Michigan, USA.

2 comments

  1. Haha… Just enjoy the attention when it comes to food. You won’t get that kind of attention anywhere. Chinese families are like that. When they care for you or regard you as family, they will attend and push food to you and ensure that you don’t go hungry even if you are not hehehe. It is nice to be the center of all the attention now and then. Being fiercely independent is not always a good thing. You need to let go and go with the flow now and then. That is actually good for the soul. I don’t mind being the emperor of the day myself, now and then. Or often, if truth be told. Just don’t take what waipo says too seriously. Am sure she did not mean to criticize per se, just some grandmotherly concern. Humour her and yourself. Love is like that.

    1. Luckily I just don’t think too much about it these days and just let go what she has said. It’s kind of hard to get used to being taken care of due to living in China for almost a year and being on my own. It’s just strange being cared about although I don’t mind it.

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