MIX IT UP. Melody Halbert prepares traditional rice balls for her family. photo/Grace McGee
MIX IT UP. Melody Halbert prepares traditional rice balls for her family. photo/Grace McGee

The smell of noodles being tossed in a pot draws sophomore Melody Halbert out of her room. The Asian sauces coat the noodles, looking at them Halbert fights the urge to reach right into the pan and steal one.

Halbert’s mother calls for the family to make its way to the kitchen table, as she transfers the noodles from the pot to several bowls on the table.

“Basically we just live day-to-day, we don’t really like make [our heritage] a big deal because it’s just part of who we are,” Halbert said.

Halbert’s family mixes the traditions of their Chinese heritage, while simultaneously immersing themselves in the culture of the place they currently reside.

“Since I’m half Asian and half white, in my household we do have some Chinese traditions. I think we are more American than the traditional Chinese family,” Halbert said.

At meal time Halbert is exposed to  dishes that reflect her heritage. She enjoys foods that are not as popular with others.

“We eat a lot of pasta, noodles and different Asian dishes. I eat tofu. A lot of people think tofu is really gross, but it’s not if you cook it the right way,” Halbert said.

One of the ways Halbert and her family keeps their heritage alive is by continuing to speak Chinese in their household. Lucy Halbert, Melody’s mother, does most of the speaking.

“When Melody was little we spoke more.  Melody is really good at understanding what we are talking about but she has a hard time expressing herself in Chinese. I would like to start speaking Chinese more at home so they do not forget,” L. Halbert said.

L. Halbert witnesses what she characterizes as a loss of culture in her immediate family.  She grew up in Xian, China, when she thought times were simpler.

“My childhood, when we were little, we had very little material stuff. I felt it was ok, right now people have a lot of money but they grow more distant. At the time when we were little we would just play outside and then go home and eat. We just played in the field and by the riverside and we did a lot of outdoor playing. After you finished your homework, you played. We were playing freely. We were close to nature,” L. Halbert said.  

Although M. Halbert is not as immersed in her culture as her mom, she is still proud of her culture and takes time to integrate it into her daily life.

“I embrace it and I cherish that I have two different backgrounds. I’ve been to China twice and I really cherish my heritage. I appreciate everything about my heritage. I do not think there is anything I would change. I have the best of both worlds,” M. Halbert said.

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