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Wife Here, Husband Still in Taiwan : A Family Forced to Live Apart

ASIAN IMPACT, First of four parts; NEXT: Growing Asian presence creates a cultural backlash and emotional trauma

April 09, 1987|MARK ARAX | Times Staff Writer

Lee Yang, like so many other newly arrived Chinese mothers, is raising her three children alone.

Her husband, who manages an office machine company in Taiwan, has been unable to find a comparable job here since the family immigrated in 1983. So he travels back and forth, seeing them every six months or so.

"We have property in Taiwan and we live comfortably. But we are not so comfortable that my husband can afford to take any job," the Arcadia mother said through a translator. "The only jobs he has been offered here are as a truck driver or delivery man."

Yang said she is coping well with the support of the Evangelical Formosan Church in Arcadia, and a brother and sister who moved to the western San Gabriel Valley several years ago.

During her husband's absence, Yang said, she has taken language courses every semester at Pasadena Community College and now speaks some English. In Taiwan, she taught at a school for the deaf, and she has tried to learn American sign language. But the differences in the two methods are so vast that she has given up hope of ever working in her field again.

Other than asking her children--ages 20, 17 and 13--to speak Mandarin at home, Yang has made no special attempt to ensure that they retain their culture.

"It's OK if they lose parts of the culture. We must take things as they come," she said. "That's the nature of things in America."

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