Openings: Evelyn Taocheng Wang|Karen Archey

THERE IS NO ONE THING that we could call the “immigrant experience,” but certainly everyone who has immigrated is familiar with how mundane misunderstandings can reveal cultural tectonics, of how humor can sometimes be mobilized to leaven pain. What’s the correct time of day to introduce yourself to a new neighbor? How earnestly should you respond to the question “How are you?” Will you come off as suspicious to the neighbors if your curtains remain drawn? The answers to these questions might seem relative or merely dependent on personal proclivity, yet one’s approach to these everyday situations constitutes, in part, the je ne sais quoi of national belonging. And while learning a new culture can be refined into a science, other qualities will still mark us as different, factors comprising who we are, where we come from, and our appearance.

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