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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 1: Engagement and Dialogue
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Julia Alverez
Biography
Work
Gish Jen
Biography
Work
Tina Lee
Biography
Work
Khot T. Luu
Biography
Work
James McBride
Biography
Work
Lensey Namioka
Biography
Work
Naomi Shihab Nye
Biography
Work
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.



Authors and Literary Works
My Mom Across America

My Mom Across America is Tina Yun Lee's autobiographical one-woman show, which cleverly navigates the rocky shoals of the mother/daughter relationship. Yet it's not just mother/daughter tensions that are at issue here, but first- versus second-generation immigrant concerns as well.

Tina (also called Yunny by her parents) is a self-deprecating and ironic Korean American woman in her 20s who is getting her M.F.A. in fiction writing. From her parents' perspective, this is all wrong, of course: "My mother has asked me to go to law school, since, God, I think my first day out of the womb ... she keeps at it ... she mentions it without knowing it. 'Mom, so what's the capital of France?' 'Law school! Oh, sorry, did I say again?'"

Lee says her two biggest fears are dogs and being Korean. She doesn't speak Korean and is always afraid of encountering a Korean who will try to converse with her. "I am a fake Korean... When I went to college, I told everyone I was Jewish." But somehow, her mother, who is clearly losing the law school battle, manages to lure Lee into a family trip across Canada, which turns out to be an all-Korean (and Korean-speaking) bus excursion. In Lee's deft hands, the consequences are both comic and touching as the generational tug-of-war unfolds.


A change of heart on either part is probably too much to expect, but by the end of the trip, Lee has at least gained some wisdom for the inevitable future hurdles of the continuing mother/daughter relationship. "What is the big deal about mothers and daughters?" she wonders. "I guess it's because mothers identify with their daughters. They're trying to rewrite their history with you; that's why it's so important that you end up with the right career, the right partner, the right weight, the right hairstyle. Sometimes, I wish I could trade in my title of daughter. Life would be so much easier if I could be demoted to niece, or aunt or even distant cousin. There's too much pressure with the daughter part."

back to top Next: Khoi T. Luu: Biography
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