Where I am from

By Christine Tran

"Where are you from?"

LA—El Ay—Los Ángeles—Los


"No, where are you really from?"


I am from east of East LA, where urban meets suburban

I am from the sweat of brows in sweatshops and on construction sites

I am from roosters crowing in the morning

I am from the bright pink dragon fruit/thanh long/pitaya that grows in the yard


I am from VHS tapes at the local library on Central and Santa Anita

I am from karaoke LaserDiscs purchased in Little Sài Gòn

I am from Saturday morning cartoons, I Love Lucy , and KCET via TV rabbit ears (pre-YouTube)

I am from the Huntington Library when the cost of admission was per car, not per person 


I am from bright blue bubble gum ice cream at Clark's Drugs

I am from bowls of phở, (pre- and post-Jonathan Gold reviews)

I am from Cup O' Noodles con limón with a bag of hot Cheetos con limón

I am from Sriracha when it was made in Rosemead (pre-hipsters)


I am from Swamp Meet haggles—“2 for $5? How about 2 for $4?

I am from shopping at Fedco, Newberry, and Montgomery Ward (before Target and Amazon)

I am from Chinatown trips for 50 lbs. rice bags, bottles of ‎nước mắm, and back-to-school clothes

I am from newspaper print PennySavers, before craigslist and eBay


I am from cubed turkey and mashed potato days at school, a favorite of the free lunches

I am from TV tapings as school fundraisers, the perks of living near Hollywood

I am from FBLA club meetings that taught me public speaking and parliamentary procedures

I am from that one 8th grade fieldtrip to UCLA that inspired me to move west, later across the country


I am from indigenous lands turned ranch, farms, suburbia, working class community, now gentrifying

I am from refugees who escaped war and poverty in search for new beginnings

I am from immigrants that make America great, again, and again

I am from a diaspora of scholars and activists in search for old and new Memories of (South) El Monte


Link to broadsheet version

Christine Tran is a first-generation high school graduate from South El Monte, CA. She is passionate about people, places, food, and stories that connect us all. Her diverse background in education, food justice, communities, and policy has taken her across the country and around the world. As a multimedia storyteller, Christine aspires to create narratives to deepen our understanding of each other, the food we eat, and the world we share. She leads the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, the largest Food Policy Council in the country. Christine is a graduate of UCLA, Columbia University, and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Washington.

Live reading at the end of the bike tour, February 26, 2022

Where I am from