Custom – Chinese


Vickie Yang learned how to use chopsticks from an early age from her parents.  Though she was born and raised in America, learning to use chopsticks was a basic skill that she was expected to learn as a Chinese American.  She was taught that chopsticks were not just another method of eating but an important part of Asian culture.  Using chopsticks gives a sense of pride to the user and instills a feeling of belonging.  It also pays respect to the culture by acknowledging the differences between American and Asian traditions.

Chopsticks are an interesting reflection of the Asian culture.  It illustrates the simplicity of Asian life while noting the delicate intricacies and detail often characterized of Asians.  For example, the Chinese and Japanese are known for their traditions of meditating and taking walks in tea gardens – lifestyles of pleasure and simplicity.  However, they are also widely recognized for their skills in producing beautiful pieces of art with intricate designs and minute details.  Likewise, chopsticks are a mix between simplicity and difficulty.  Chopsticks are fairly simple in that they are merely two pieces of sticks.  They’re nothing special like the 5 pronged fork or the sharp edged knife.  Rather, they’re merely 2 pieces of wood that can easily be made in nature from branches.  However, chopsticks are also complex in that they can be difficult to use.  It requires a degree of control by the hand and the correct manipulation of the fingers.  The ability to use a chopstick, therefore, is not as widespread as the usage of forks and spoons.  As a result, chopsticks remain a unique representation of the Asian culture.