From the Readers

My route of seeking root

Updated: Apr 13, 2023 Print
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[Indonesia] Angelia, Chongqing University

I come from Indonesia. What do you think of when talking about Indonesian Chinese? I believe many people have an impression that there are not many Chinese people in Indonesia. But according to statistics, there are more than 10 million Indonesian Chinese. I am one of the 10 million. My ancestral home is Meizhou City, Guangdong Province.

When I was a child, my grandfather often told me about the history of Indonesian Chinese. It is a bitter history of blood and tears. In the early 20th century, many people were at the edge of starving because of war. At that time, going out of the homeland was the only hope for survival. They had to abandon their business in their hometown and struggled in a foreign land.

Angelia [Photo provided to]

There is a saying that “where there is the sun, there are Chinese people, and where there are Chinese people, there are Hakkas”. In that era, my grandfather, who was only a teenager, said goodbye to his hometown and boarded a passenger ship bound for Indonesia.

Exiling from home is full of nostalgia and tears. My grandpa is yearning for his hometown day and night. Grandpa often said, “no matter where you are, you must know where your roots are. Only by knowing where you come from can you know where you should go.” Every time my grandpa told me the stories about his hometown, I could see his homesickness and the longing for returning to his roots from his eyes.

Chongqing University [Photo provided to]

Grandpa’s stories deeply inspired me. Therefore, I began to learn Chinese at the age of 5, participated in various Chinese competitions, and worked hard to improve my Chinese. Grandpa also constantly encouraged me to learn Chinese culture, which has become a driving force for me to move forward, deepened my love and persistence for Chinese study, and helps me gain a new understanding of cultural inheritance. I still remember that my grandfather once said to me, “When you grow up, you must go back to find roots if you have the opportunity”. From that day on, I made up my mind that I must go back to my native land to find my root after graduating from high school
The COVID-19 epidemic broke out in 2020. I have been hesitant on staying in Indonesia or going to China to pursue my dream. But my grandpa and my family have always encouraged me. Even though the way home is full of difficulties, we should muster the courage to break through the obstacles.

Therefore, I began to put all my heart into preparation. I actively applied for the schools and finally got a precious interview opportunity. But two days before this interview, I suddenly received the news that made me sad and shocked. My 95-year-old grandpa was infected with Covid-19 and hospitalized. I was very worried and burst into tears. I really couldn’t imagine what I would do if my grandpa left the world. However, the bad news came. After struggling in the hospital for two days, Grandpa left us. Immersed in endless sadness, I missed the interview.

Although the person, who taught me to speak the first sentence of Chinese and inspired me to learn Chinese culture, has left me forever, I am aware of his wishes, his nostalgia, and his regret of not returning to the root. To find my own root, I will not give up my dream. Therefore, in the following year, I studied like a demon. To accumulate more experience, I also began to engage in online Chinese teaching for primary school students in a Chinese language center.

Chongqing University [Photo provided to]

In 2021, with the belief of going home, the longing of my grandfather, and the tenacity of Hakka people, I applied again to study in China. I said to myself, “Success is the only aim. Failure is not allowed. No matter what difficulties you encounter, you can’t give up and forget your original intention.” In the summer of 2021 I received the most memorable letter in my life after long time waiting. In the letter is the Admission Notice of Chongqing University for undergraduate study. When I opened the letter, my eyes were moist. I held the letter and looked at the sky where I think my grandpa is. I told him, “Grandpa, I have succeeded! My dream has come true! Your wish has come true! I will take your wish and go back to China!”

Indonesia is the country where I grew up, my motherland and my national identity. But I also have the blood of the Chinese people. Although the branches and leaves are stretching outside, just like a giant tree, the root is still in its original place. China is indeed my hometown.

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).

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