Woodward Middle School

My grandmother has drawn
and painted all her life

My grandmother has drawn and painted all her life. In her house, there are great paintings hanging from every wall. She has painted several paintings of flowers, and birds. She has beautiful paintings of tigers and dragons in her work studio. Every so often, I will go in there to look at the paintings that are hung up. There is an oil painting of our old house, done by her, hung next to our dining room. A series of landscape paintings line our stairs, and a group of bird paintings are strung up in our living room. During the day, I always see my grandmother happily drawing or painting in her studio.

My ancestors immigrated to Taiwan five generations ago, leaving behind China. Taiwan is 90 miles off the coast of China. It is about 13,900 square miles. China owned Taiwan until the end of the first Sino-Japanese war. China surrendered, giving Japan control of Taiwan in 1895. The Japanese influence on Taiwan allowed it to develop advanced agricultural and industrial methods. Though Japan has brought new techniques, Taiwan citizens rebelled, due to harsh labor and rules. My grandmother, Susan Wu, was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1927, and became a Japanese citizen.

Susan began her education at Song Elementary School, where my father, Andy Yang, would also later attend. My grandmother enjoyed playing tennis, and drawing after school. There was not a lot of time to do either, due to the masses of schoolwork. Education was a big part of every childís life. Everyone was expected to do very good on tests and assignments.

After high school she went to Normal College, a college strictly for the training of teachers. My grandmother majored in art, a skill that would greatly impact her life. In Taiwan, it was harder for women to get into college, because the Japanese government favored men in college more. Susan had to struggle to be accepted. After college, grandma went directly into teaching. She began teaching art in a high school, and her career in teaching ended 20 years later.

Susan married Po-Shang Yang in 1951, changing her last name to Yang. Po-Shang was a painter and businessman. Together they started their own travel company. After eighteen years of serving customers from all over Asia, they retired into a house in the Song San district in Taipei, Taiwan.

Afterwards, she began teaching how to draw to her grandchildren, including me. She had not taught her own children how to draw because she thought that school was more important when they were children. My grandmother visits us every year from April to October. She teaches my brother and me as much as she can. Other teachers might hold back, because they want the student to come back for more, but grandma gives us all the lessons we can take. Whenever we thank her for teaching us, she smiles and says that she is glad for us.

Art was a big influence on my grandmotherís life. As a child, she decided that she loved to draw. She won first place in a nationwide drawing contest in the fifth grade, without any formal art teaching. It was just a hobby until she majored in it at college. After Susan retired, she began to paint more. After presenting her pictures in the Chinese festival at the Seattle Center, a few people began buying her paintings.

Susan has been teaching my cousins and me how to draw whenever she visits us. We have taken a liking to art since Susan has helped us. She teaches each one of us different aspects of art. There are different types of art like oil painting, sketching, clay modeling, cartoon drawing, and portraits. We constantly compare our ability in art with each other. There is an age gap between my cousins and me, but we all are supportive to each other.

Most of my cousins live in Taiwan, but some live in Vancouver, Canada. We visit each other often, since we are the only family that lives close by. Whenever my family goes back to Taiwan, we visit as many relatives as we can, while doing as much shopping as we can. The families are all spread out over Taiwan, but we manage to visit most of them.

Taipei is the capital of Taiwan. When my grandmother was in elementary school, there was about 300,000 people living in the city, now it is nearing 3,000,000 people. There is a crowding problem in Taipei. A lot of people do not use cars, but mopeds, or motorized scooters clog the streets, causing a lot of pollution. With the lack of cars, people use trains and monorails to go from city to city. School buses are not provided, so students have to use public transit. Several advances in technology in Taiwan was brought over from Japan.

In1895 Sino-Japanese war, China had given Taiwan to Japan so they could negotiate. Japan accepted, and the war ended. Japanís laws differed from Chinaís. They were strict and people had to work harder to get what they wanted. My grandmother had a hard time getting into college. Women were expected to get married and live as a homemaker.

Susan Wu had lived in a six-person family. The mother, father, one older sister, and two brothers and my grandmother lived together in Taipei. They helped each other day after day. Nowadays, they live far apart, but never forget the time to visit.

My grandmother, Susan Wu, is a great influence on my family. She was born under the harsh Japanese ruling, and succeeded as a travel agent. My grandmother loved to draw, and the interest has shined through the generation. Taipei was a hard city to live in, but after seventy-four years, my grandmother still lives there happily. Art has influenced my grandmotherís life deeply. It has been an excellent hobby, career, and lifestyle.



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