AAPI Heritage: Christie's Story

Amanda Crawford

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Hydrow Athlete Christie Wang filmed a very special core Pilates workout sharing her personal experience growing up in a Chinese-American household. We caught up with Christie this week to dig further into some of the powerful themes she covered in her “Honoring Your Heritage Pilates” workout.  

How has your heritage helped shape the incredible woman you are today?

It's made me strong, gritty, and resilient! 

I believe that who we are is a result of who we make ourselves to be and who we come from. As the daughter of two Chinese immigrants, my mom's childhood always seemed so foreign to me. When she told me stories, I couldn't relate to where she grew up, the political climate, or her family situation. But, despite all of this, she's really molded me into who I am. Although I couldn't directly relate, I took a lot of the lessons she learned to heart. To work hard and find a way to follow a dream (for her it was getting to the US and practicing medicine, and for me, it’s helping people become healthier and learn how to move better). To never put money or fame at the center of my life but, rather family and community. To learn to do my best despite the circumstances. 

When I say "who we make ourselves to be," despite how much my parents and ancestors molded me, they couldn't teach me what it would be like to grow up in the US as a 2nd generation Chinese American. There was so much about my identity and values I had to learn from my peers, with my friends, and on my own. I constantly struggled with the questions "How Chinese am I?" and "How American am I?” I felt like I was always had to pick. The biggest lesson I learned from that identity struggle is that a lot of what makes life beautiful lives in the grey area. 

What are your favorite parts about your Chinese heritage and culture?

So many things but one of the things I'm most attached to is the food. My mom is an amazing home cook and I was spoiled by how much good food we always had around. Chinese food is served family-style (where dishes are placed in the center of the table) and I have so many amazing childhood memories of my family, friends, and community around a table. Some of my favorites: chao nian gao (Stirfry Shanghai Rice Cakes) (炒年糕), Shandong handmade noodles in a soup, tomato, and egg (when I wasn't vegan!). If you're curious and want to learn more, Omnivore's Cookbook is a great blog with vegan and non-vegan traditional Chinese recipes! 

Besides that, the commitment to family and respect for elders is something I hold closely. It's traditional for elders in your family to come live with you when they're not able to live alone anymore. Grandparents traditionally help raise their grandchildren and essentially become full-time caretakers. As a result, many of us have a very strong connection to our grandparents and a desire to pass on some form of that tradition. 

If you could give your younger self advice regarding growing up as a Chinese-American, what would it be?

Be yourself! Be proud to be who you are and where you come from. Spend less time hiding from it or trying to erase it and more time sharing it with the world.

What can others do to support the AAPI community?

  • Educate yourself with reliable resources. If you don’t know where to start, here are two PBS documentaries that dive into the history and impact of Asian Americans in the United States: Asian Americans and Hate Is Learned: Tracing The History Of Anti-Asian Violence In America.  

  • Check-in with your friends who identify as Asian American and Pacific Islander.  

  • Support local businesses run by the AAPI community. 

  • Peacefully join protests or rallies to support the movement of stopping Asian hate. 

  • Choose to educate your children and family about race and identity. 

Check out Christie's "Honoring Your Heritage" 20-minute Pilatoes workout, now available on Hydrow.

Recommended Blog: "AAPI Heritage: Aisyah's Story"