Genevieve Leung is the program director of Asian Pacific American Studies and Critical Diversity Studies and affiliated faculty in the Asia Pacific Studies MA program. She will be the new academic director of the MA in Asia Pacific Studies starting in July 2020. In this interview, Professor Leung reminisced about her memories with her grandmother, her childhood travels in Hong Kong, and much more.
Q: If you could eat only one type of [Asian] food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I would probably go for fantuan, which is a rice ball stuffed with different filling, like meat and vegetables. I’m thinking in terms of variety and also what would make me full. I could change the filling every day or during every meal, and I don’t think I could get tired of eating it. One food that I do have a very fond memory of is yam leaves. It was the only thing my grandmother said they could eat during wartime, and she craved in her old age too. So my grandmother taught me how to cook it, and now it is a dish I like to cook as well.
Q: Where in Asia would you consider to be your most favorite travel destination?
When I was a kid, we would always go visit Hong Kong, so it definitely brings about nostalgia when I visit now. But it is very different now compared to what it was in my memories with a lot more Mandarin speakers, and so today’s Hong Kong doesn’t invoke the same feelings as it did when I was young. Obviously, life changes and things change, but I want to go back to 1989 Hong Kong, which I can never get back to. I think a lot of Chinese heritage Americans have a similar sense of sentimentality.
Apart from this, having lived in Taiwan only for a year, I have very fond memories where everyone was always nice, and often quite kind about my bad Mandarin. They are really accepting about people from other countries. This could be because of their cultural history and their awareness of other languages on the island, and not just the Chinese language.
Q: If you could be an Asian historical or famous person, who would it be?
There is a comic book series called Old Master Q, with funny main characters who do silly things. I would want to be the short sidekick; I always liked him. I was small as a kid, and I always wanted to be like him. He was so funny and entertaining, and he provided great comedic relief.
Through this interview, Professor Leung expressed that she realized how much more there is to learn in the world. It is hard to know all of this, and it’s interesting how people can call themselves experts in a field, but there is always going to be more to experience. There is a lot of learning and unlearning that goes on in one’s life.
Interested in learning more about Asia Pacific American Studies from Professor Leung?
Meet her “in person” in this month’s online Center for Asia Pacific Studies’ Summer Book Club meeting, featuring a discussion of E.J. Koh’s “The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir.”