One Big Hapa Family

Jacob Anderkoo

100% Hapa

Meet Jacob Anderkoo. He’s 1/2 Chinese (“Koo”), 1/4 German, 1/8 Irish, 1/8 Norwegian (“Ander”) — and 100% Hapa.

I first encountered the term “Hapa” from the Hapa Project. It’s not an acronym for “Half-Asian/Pacific American,” but rather the Hawaiian word for “half,” which originally applied to the white part of a mixed-race individual’s ancestry. (Thank you, Hawaii, for also giving us the term “wiki-wiki”; what would kids use to shortcut their homework if it wasn’t for you?). I like having a special term for Americans who have some Asian heritage; I hope it’s worn as a badge of pride.

Rachel and I have made a commitment to teach Jacob Chinese as well as English, but it won’t be easy. I’m the only member of the household who speaks any Chinese (Mandarin), and while I’m told my accent is excellent, my vocabulary is extremely limited, and I’m illiterate to boot. I suspect many Chinese-Americans (whether in mixed-cultural parenting partnerships or not) face this same challenge.

In any event, this is the lens through which we’ll be looking at bilingual Chinese-English education – courses, books, CDs, etc. I look forward to sharing and also learning from our fellow bilingual Chinese-English bloggers!