Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Li-Shyung "Lydia" Hwang

Hwang, Li-Shyung "Lydia"
Blocker, Cary
Date of Interview: 
Cultural identification; Stories and storytellers
Li-Shyung Hwang talks about reading as a child and adult and college entrance exams in her country.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Cary Blocker interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
CB (Cary Blocker): Lydia Hwang. Interview number three. [Pause] OK, when you were a child where, where were you living?
LH (Li-Shyung Lydia Hwang): Uh, I lived in a, small town, where they, I don't recall what is a population.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: But in a larger context that would be classified as a small town. Although, now it's, uh, probably you, uh, uh, it's, it has changed a lot. Population increase, building everything, so it's, it's relative less than a, a small town probably more like a city.
CB: Where was it?
LH: I'd home in Taiwan. It's uh, yeah.
CB: Is it, what part of Taiwan?
LH: South, in a south area, southern area and it's one of the small towns, uh.
CB: OK. Do you remember, um, did people use to read to you when you were young, read you books or tell you stories?
LH: Uh, yes, I think I, it's not reading book but it's rather, usually my grandma.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: Uh, because she basically is, the primary caretaker, of me and, uh, in a year end. But, I don't think of that as a routine. It was just I can recall yes, I would ask her to, uh, to tell stories by only limited a few about life you know, just not tired of it, again, again.
CB: Was there a particular place that she, she would tell you the stories?
LH: All usually, just, uh, before bed.
CB: So, in your bedroom.
LH: Yeah, well actually we don't have ( ) to have everybody have an individual bedroom. So, I remember I sleep with in the same bedroom.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: And, so, uh you know of course you all lay down together before child as a child before you went to bed, fall asleep, you always had a bedtime story that was the time.
CB: Um, what kind of stories would she tell you?
LH: Uh, usually just a fairytale or, uh, you know, just things I could hear as a children, uh. What do you say in one generation cost, in our generation that kind of old story.
CB: Do you remember one in particular?
LH: Um, yeah sometimes the, uh, you know, I don't, it's not in detail but say story usually like this is, uh, it has some moral, uh, principal behind it, and tried to say well what a person need to be a good person otherwise you might be punished as a result of what you, your bad deed and so forth, things like that. Starting with a story dying and it was, and usually would be kind of like as a child you need to be, behave, behave well otherwise you might be bite or you know, or taken by the bad guy or ghost or something like that.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: Yeah.
CB: Do you think they were used to, to have you behave?
LH: Well, that was part of, uh, maybe the reason, but another reason of course that was, uh, some of the, I think attraction to child, to listen because it have suspension, it have a some excitement, it have some, uh, you know I think not only that it is some of the story maybe, that's all they have from their, uh, uh, well they know about people tell them when they were a child and so it's just, uh, uh, as I say a generation, a part of generation. You might not really have a great, uh, significance for them to think why they want to tell the children this kind of story maybe that's the only some of the few stories they have.
CB: Uh-huh. How about, um, you yourself reading? When did you start to read yourself?
LH: I can, I don't think I can recall exactly year.
CB: // Uh-huh. //
LH: // But, // uh I want say I would say it before kindergarten of course. You know it always have, uh, some little children book that, um, relatively our family, uh, my mother use to be, uh, elementary school teacher.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: And, of course my family was quite emphasized on education, so I guess the more or less we would have, uh, book around house. I am talking about relative in that time, uh, is, uh, that background that, uh, us compared with many my peer group that I think I, I was able relatively have some, um, folks in, uh, during my childhood.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: And, we are talking about is a different culture and perhaps that was not such plenty of everything, anything like the United States.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: Here, and in, in the same period of time.
CB: So, can you remember any particular book that you read that you, that was your favorite?
LH: Some of the book actually were, uh, translate and some were a book like, uh, for instance The One Sovereign One Night was, uh, what was that, what was that?
CB: The One-. Uh.
LH: Uh, some of the children book you have here One Sovereign, uh, you know is uh, some stories they tell and you know it's, uh, a king or a queen or something and a, because they want guys to listen to the story and again, again and so, they were as kind of the hire somebody to tell the story and so every evening they would tell one story.
CB: Oh, Arabian Knights.
LH: Yeah, Arabian Knights.
CB: Oh yeah.
LH: At once, all in once, you see Arabian Knights, yeah.
CB: Did you like those?
LH: Uh yeah, and there is one I remember, is, uh, fairytale and it's a close translated into Chinese, but here I think the translation is Annie Granin or Garrin, Garrin or Gerlin, uh.
CB: Um.
LH: Uh, it's a collection of, uh, uh, you know the children story.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: So, origin is actually from Winston and of course you do have some of, uh, uh, native, uh, uh, native culture you know that kind of story. It is, uh, culturally inherited. Just like you will hear some of the Irish story of, uh, Scottish story or you know. Certainly, we have our own, uh, uh, type of thing.
CB: Did you, uh, did you read a lot when you were in school?
LH: Uh, I won't say a lot. I would say just a mediate, mediocre, just in the middle I want say. I won't say I am a person, uh, always spoken with book, uh, but relatively the only thing you say read a lot you probably compare with others, uh, yes, I would, I would say, I was just in the middle, average.
CB: What, uh, what kind of books did you read in school?
LH: You are not talking about textbooks?
CB: No.
CB: Uh, either fiction or-.
LH: // Yeah. //
CB: // On your // own for pleasure.
LH: Uh, I prefer I think I read a lot of, uh, fiction in a period, some period of time like the early teenage and of course all kind of romantic story, and all kind of fiction. But, actually I know relative I was late to have a great interest in that part. But, I did, uh, like a short story, I remember that, uh.
CB: Where, now when, where did you start to, to learn English?
LH: Was, uh, uh it's uh, a part of curriculum when you get into, uh, junior high.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: And, that's part of curriculum and, uh, I would say that was probably, um, three or four hours a week or four or five. I think, uh, in every, every, probably one hour per day. So, but I don't think it no more than six hour, or probably five or six I cannot totally recall.
CB: Now, is, uh, did the books you read, that you read, were they in Chinese?
LH: Of course.
CB: Or were they in English.
LH: In Chinese.
CB: They were in Chinese.
LH: Yeah.
CB: And, were they written by Chinese authors or were they translated?
LH: Uh, part, part you know, part I would say, well the proportion I cannot say, well some, uh, translation.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: Some, uh, just Chinese author, just the directly those a lot of writer. Also, local I mean you know native writer.
CB: Do you remember one that you lived in particular?
LH: Native?
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: Uh, you want to say, describe what is?
CB: Yeah, what happened in the story if you remember?
LH: Oh, uh, I, I don't, uh, if, if this only restricted to, to childhood.
CB: No, you can talk about whatever you want. Any t-, stories that you've read.
LH: After adult life.
CB: Sure.
LH: Oh, ok, because you say this childhood, that's what I keep thinking about. What happened in the childhood?
CB: No, no I was thinking in high school now. Do you remember one in high school you read that you liked a lot?
LH: Uh, high school, we were, uh, actually, I don't have much memory of high school. What do we do? What happen is we have a very demanding, uh, school life.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: Because we, uh, has to have, uh, college entrance exam so basically it's a very heavy, uh, school life, uh, particular in high school because studies, uh, the uh, three years that you prepare for the major exam for your life at that time that could be, uh, a factor of, well you become a engineer or you becomes, uh, a doctor because that would affect the where you end up with, uh, your, uh, current major and usually that would continue to, uh, the decision to decide your career.
CB: They chose it for you or did you choose your own?
LH: Well, well, it's, uh, funny thing is, uh, once you kind of set up when you, uh, lets say, uh, sophomore starting with sophomore you will kind of need to decide which, uh, route. You have uh, several options and say you have a full area, say, uh, Area A concentration meaning you would prepare yourself to be engineering and, uh, chemistry, nature science, that area. Uh, Area B would be more literature, uh, that kind of thing, and, uh, Area C would be agriculture, medical school that kind of thing. Area D would be the business, law school that kind of thing. In my case, in my case, because my father had want, wanted me to be physician so at that time I know I have no choice, but chose Area C and making, uh, concentration to prepare myself in that direction. Now, once you take the exam, uh, it is who decided is kind of half, half because even you, it, it also depends on the score you have from the exam so if that is so many, uh, you know that I mean the score you have, uh, you either, uh, and of course you can fill out the several, uh, like, uh, your wish list that if I want , if I have a choice I will go to this, this, this, but then, I will come incorporate it eventually with what you had score so if you say, "Oh, I want to get in the American school," but that score mean, doesn't mean that, that is standard you cannot get in so you only can choose what is below that score and you can choose all the equal to the score.
CB: One of those.
LH: Yeah, one of them so, to a point, uh, yes you do have a choice, it's because you making a wish, wish list, wishing list.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: But, it also depends on whether you score, can meet these standards or not. So, sometimes if you, you just choose uh, what you have in terms of sometimes, is not because your score just not going to make it, uh.
CB: That's interesting. How about, uh, now, as you are today, is there certain books you like to read, certain stories that you like to tell?
LH: Um, no.
CB: Like when you, when you meet new people do you ever tell them stories about your life? Is there, there a particular period that you like to talk about or?
LH: Uh, I don't know. I would like to talk about but certainly it is now, it's, um, probably is a most recent by years because either it is more immediate. I mean it's, it's a more recent and, uh, and I also feel this in the past five years is, uh, as a person I feel, uh, certainly have, uh, more frustrated feeling as a human being what has to be, uh, I have a more, uh, it may be put in a negative way, but I feel more frustration, disappointed and, uh, suffering than I would and, and certainly something that would make me feel this period of time is more, more unforgettable and, uh, as, it is now, because I am a part of me still experiencing that life and before that time I feel I was, uh, quite kind of actually, uh, uh thinking back I have been quite, uh, fortune, fortunate in many ways because although I'm not saying that I got almost everything I wanted, but, relative life is much more smalls and, uh, uh, when I was younger and of course, uh, as time goes on and you get older you find life is not that easy that you always can get what you want.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: And, uh, I have hard time to come to term with that to accept that, that is a fact of life and maybe that is, uh, one of the reason then because you have to work on your maturity and I'm not succeeded yet to accept that what you have and to, uh, accept as well equally well, that you don't have and you can not have and I'm still struggling with that and, um, that is make, uh, uh, life feel experienced, uh, more in depth about, uh, this human being and what is, what is the meaning of our life you probably spend more time to think about it.
CB: When you, when you read other things is that what you like to read about? Philosophical, philosophical, stuff or?
LH: Uh, yeah, I won't say I read a lot about it, but that usually I like to see, read a book it's either I was really boring and I just read something very not demanding, intellectually challenging thing just probably picture based.
CB: Yeah.
LH: I just around and, uh, uh but you know occasional I particular or not kind of be demanding in my all kind of aspect, um, I don't but once a while I do, uh, like to have sample to reach or challenge the mentally, uh, you know perspective.
CB: Can you think of one in particular like, uh, that you read or you liked recently? Or like title or author?
LH: Uh, most recently I, uh, kind of read, uh, some of book it's not probably related to what I just described is, uh, just, uh, what you characterize is, um, probably, uh, it, uh, in a book store category self.
CB: Self help?
LH: Self help, that type of book, yeah, um, although most of the think that people write down is not really totally new to you. You know what you ought to do and what would be better in general. But, some, those type of book, uh, put sometimes, put in a detail way and some author can writing in, uh, way that can stimulate it to say, "Oh yeah, this person write is the write is, is writing very well about how I feel," about you know whatever that I'm feeling and even can describe, uh, my feeling better than I can because sometimes, uh, you have that feeling when you want to articulate and you couldn't.
CB: Uh-huh.
LH: But, that, those some of the author can, uh, write down and you can identify those feelings and say, "Oh yes, that is exactly what I fear about," uh, but, I don't think I would identify with particular book for you.
LH: But, that is the type of, those type of book.
CB: Good, ok I think that's it.
LH: That's it?
CB: Yeah.
CB: Thank you very much
LH: Oh no.