Final Chapter – The wedding

School of Fine Arts University of Canterbury – Design 505 Thesis

October 25th, 200911:52 pm @ | 2,756 views


flags1I first met David Goodman in October last year, not long after the election. It was his first visit to New Zealand and the second time he and Yiyi had met since they first found each other on ICQ earlier in the year. If Yiyi were not my own sister I probably would never have believed that it was possible to find true love on the internet.

In the old Chinese tradition, the role of the match-maker is extremely important. In a conservative society where women were supposed to stay at home always it was almost impossible for men to find women on their own. Therefore match-makers who could successfully bring two people together into marriage were always treated very well and highly respected. I taught Yiyi everything she knows about the online business; I set up an account with an internet service provider, showed Yiyi how to send and receive emails, downloaded ICQ from the web, and even designed a web page for her. I believe David has me to thank as their match-maker.

The Chinese consider marriage to be one of the very most important things in life. We call it “life-long big business”. No one takes it lightly, especially the parents. In fact in a Chinese marriage often it involves not just the two people in love but also the two respective families and sometimes even their friends. For Chinese immigrants the issue of their children’s marriage is a particularly serious one. Many of them are old fashioned and believe that cross-culture marriages do not last. Some even go so far as to threaten their children that if they ever get themselves involved with a foreigner they would no longer be recognized as part of the family. Fortunately my parents are fairly open-minded. They met David and found him to be quite acceptable and gave their permission for Yiyi to marry him.

SpBubbleloveOnce again Yiyi became the centre of everyone’s attention in the local Chinese community. Everybody was talking about her forthcoming marriage.

“Have you heard that Yiyi is getting married soon?”

“Did you know that her fiancé is not a Chinese?”

“Do you know how they met?”

Everyone was fascinated and excited. September 19 was highlighted on everyone’s diary and people were curious about the mysterious David. Yiyi and David were busy taking care of all the details for the wedding, while everyone was busy getting them a nice wedding gift.

Most Chinese people are superstitious in some way. Nothing could be worse than to get married on an inauspicious day, and Mom made sure she double-checked the Chinese calendar before deciding on the wedding date. The number “9” in Chinese is pronounced exactly the same as the word for “long”; the date 19/9/1999 consists of altogether five “9”s and Mom took that as a great sign for a long marriage. It was also the birthday of the Medicine Buddha and the fact that it was a Sunday was convenient for everyone; it was a perfect date. Yiyi and David received more than 300 guests at Mona Vale on the most beautiful day in September. Everyone enjoyed themselves at the wedding.

The arrival of the sixth person into our family is meaningful in many ways. The marriage between Yiyi and David is also a marriage between three cultures: New Zealand, Chinese, and American. David has recently been granted his New Zealand residency and I wonder if he will have to go through all the things we went through in the past eleven years. He is currently learning Chinese and Yiyi thinks he is quite talented in this respect.

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Even though there are still a number of immigrants coming into New Zealand every year, some families that we know of have either moved back to Taiwan or gone somewhere else in the world. Their children have finished their education and found work elsewhere and the parents are left with loneliness. To the first generation of immigrants New Zealand can never be their number one home. Their roots are still back in their homeland and many of them choose to return in old age. I don’t know whether my parents will do the same but I know that just about all my Chinese friends have left Christchurch after university.

I think that the marriage of Yiyi and David has brought us a new beginning, and I am looking forward to finding out what the future has in store for my family.

Mona Vale Christchurch, venue of Yiyi's wedding 9 / 19 / 1999

Mona Vale Christchurch, venue of Yiyi's wedding 9 / 19 / 1999