Empowering New York’s Asian American Community Since 1989

Christine Yi'S
New York City

“I love how many of Christine’s memories are prompted by food and meals she’s shared. That passion for food—and her love of Chinatown and the city as a whole—inspired so much of the poster. I wanted the ornate details in the illustration to reveal the fullness of Christine’s city, while also giving her a moment to stop and absorb it all in the foreground. As someone who grew up between two countries and three cultures, I definitely relate to Christine identifying as more Korean in a Western setting. And like Christine, I feel most at home in Chinatown around lots of food.”

—Gica Tam, Illustrator

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About Christine Yi

Christine Yi is a Korean American entrepreneur and food blogger who is also an amputee and proud owner of a prosthetic leg. While she grew up in a town with few other Asian people, Christine found a deep sense of community among Korean family friends. One of the Korean traditions she valued most was the cultural emphasis on food—an appreciation that would ultimately lead to a career in food.

WHERE AM I REALLY FROM?

“I’ve been asked that hundreds and hundreds of times. I always say, ‘I’m Korean, but I was born here.’ That’s how I identify. But I’ve never said, ‘I’m American.’ Maybe that helps people. Because when I’ve seen other Asian people answer that question with ‘I’m American,’ the response is always, ‘Really?’”


—Christine Yi

Yellow Cabs

“I almost moved to San Francisco in 1999. I came back to New York to get some stuff, and I remember landing at JFK and walking outside to the yellow cabs all lined up. I took this deep breath. I don’t know if it was the air or the energy, but I decided right there that I couldn’t leave this city. So in the middle of the night, I called the company I was supposed to start working at and left a message: ‘Hi, I know you guys just offered me a job. But I can’t leave New York. I’m so sorry.’”

Bean Sprouts

“I’d come home from school already finished with my homework, and my grandmother would say, ‘All right, then you can sit down and help me trim these bean sprouts.’ I didn’t even like bean sprouts, but she’d be like, ‘You’re still trimming them, and you’re still eating them.’ So she’d unroll a mat and we’d just sit there with bowls and trim bean sprouts together.”

Chinatown

“I think living near Chinatown for so long has been good for the soul. A lot of the elderly people shopping together remind me of old Korean grandmas. My grandmother passed away last year, and we never really got to say goodbye to her—it’s nice for me to be around these elderly Chinese grandmothers, even if they’re just going about their day.”

Yut Nori

“I loved growing up Korean—especially on holidays. Koreans love to play games, and one of my favorites is this game called Yut Nori that we’d play on New Year’s. You throw these sticks, similar to Parcheesi. And we’re betting—only like, a dollar, but when you’re a kid, and you make 10 dollars, you’re thrilled. My family would be there until 10 or 11 at night every year, eating and playing games.”

Lunch Box

“I had this denim lunch box with an elephant that my grandmother had patched onto it. Inside the box was a lunch set you’d buy at any Korean grocery store—it had a thermos, a thing that kept rice warm, three little spots for banchan and one other container with meat or fish. I had a blue elephant, and my sister had a pink elephant.”

School Lunch

“The worst part of growing up was lunch. I’d pack my Korean lunch every day—soup, rice, banchan and something else. That’s what I wanted to eat. So I was sad when people would say it smelled. I remember crying one day. I wanted to say, ‘My mom and my grandma put so much love into this meal. And I know it doesn’t look like your meal, but it’s really good.’ I think that was one of the hardest things about being around so many non-Asian people growing up.”

MEET THE ARTIST

Gica Tam

Gica Tam is a Filipino Chinese illustrator and designer whose whimsical art explores themes as wide-ranging as food, identity, and folk tales—all of which beautifully unite to bring Christine's story to life.

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