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Queenie Ho has homeland as big as the globe
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Photo: Todd Welvaert
Queenie Ho, an Augustana College senior, pauses for a minute between classes on Sept. 25.


ROCK ISLAND — She may be living in the Quad-Cities, but the world is her home.
As a child, Queenie Ho, now 21, was living with her family in Hong Kong when her parents decided the family needed a change, and she found herself on Guam, a small island in the Pacific Ocean and a U.S. territory.
When she was in high school, the scenery changed again as her family looked for educational opportunities better suited for Ms. Ho and her brother than what were available on the island. Guam's ocean vistas were traded for the fields and hills of Illinois — Chestnut, to be exact. Now, as a young woman, Ms. Ho is a student at Augustana College.
Ms. Ho does not put too much emphasis on any of those points in her life as individual experiences. Instead, she embraces them as a whole.
People rarely are the result of just one experience, she said. To say she is just Chinese, for instance, would deny her life on Guam, in Chestnut or at Augustana, she said during a conversation at the campus coffee shop.
"Yeah, I'm Chinese because I came from Hong Kong, but I am a member of the (global) community," she said.
There is a larger world beyond that of a person's immediate life, and it is important to understand there are similarities between people regardless of their backgrounds, she said. Something beyond the immediate experience may seem strange at first, but all it is is different.
One might think bouncing across the globe could be a troubling experience for a child, but Ms. Ho said the transitions were not that hard on her — she is not afraid of change.
"To me it was something new," she said.
In Guam, there was an initial language barrier, Ms. Ho said. But Guam is a very diverse place and a forgiving one for newcomers from another country. The people on Guam understand the transition.
For example, in Guam it was easy to find authentic Chinese cuisine — Sundays on the island were dim sum day for the Ho family. (Dim sum consists of small portions of certain Chinese foods made and served in steamer baskets, she said. There is a variety of Chinese foods considered to be dim sum. It can include small buns, and sometimes these dishes have rice or noodles in them.)
Chestnut was more of an adjustment because its population is not as diverse, she said. The nearest place to Chestnut to get dim sum, for example, is Chicago.
But the adjustments were not insurmountable. Ms. Ho picked up English, and Sunday became "Cracker Barrel day" for the Ho family.
"It's change, and that's OK," she said. "It doesn't mean I'm not Chinese any more or that I'm not from Guam any more."
Ms. Ho said she does maintain ties to each chapter of her life. Social media allows her to stay in contact with people from Hong Kong and Guam, she said. She also uses the Internet to watch Chinese television shows — it reminds her of her time in Hong Kong as a child.
She said she has not been to Hong Kong or Guam since she left each place, but she does hope to return to both someday.
"Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am now," she said.
What Ms. Ho learned as a child and teen are influencing her choices for her future.
She is studying anthropology and biology with plans to pursue graduate and doctorate studies. She said she hopes to apply both areas of study in research on humanity's distant past and how it has changed over time.
She also may do forensic work, she said.
"I think it's important to study people," Ms. Ho said. "We're all surrounded by each other. We grow from each other."
But she said studying culture is interesting for its own sake as well, and understanding culture helps encourage open-mindedness toward other people.
"You learn to see that we're each different, yes, but we're all just people," Ms. Ho said.


China

-- Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam.

-- Population: 1,343,239,923 (July 2012 estimate). No. 1 in the world.

-- Languages: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect); Yue (Cantonese); Wu (Shanghainese); Minbei (Fuzhou); Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese); Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages. Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol' Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur; and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet).

Source: CIA World Factbook.




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