Allison Yii was born and raised in the melting-pot of the United States, but like many, she enjoys exploring her family's roots.
Yii recently returned from her third trip to China, where her father grew up.
She left from Atlanta on Jan. 26 for the journey with the first stop being in Hong Kong before going on to her father's hometown of Chengdu in the province of Sichuan on mainland China.
She stayed with her half brother and his family while there and over the next week, Yii's family again showed her how hospitable the Chinese can be.
"Chinese people are very different culturally, but extremely hospitable and take care of your every need," said Yii.
Although Yii speaks very little Chinese, her niece speaks very good English and was able to serve as translator. She also used a battery-powered translator, and they communicated through Apps.
"It was interesting," chuckled Yii. "Everyone would be chatting, then suddenly get up and I realize that we are going out. Since they didn't originally use the QWERTY keyboard, they have an app with which they simply write the Chinese character on the surface of the pad/device with their finger or stylist. It translates it into Ping Ying (the closest sound of the characters into English letters) and then they would select the closest digital character. Their GPS works in the same manner. It is a much slower process than typing on a keyboard as we do."
Yii arrived during the two-week celebration of Chinese New Year, which she enjoyed while getting to spend it with family.
"It's a celebration that is about family and food," she explained. "A lot of their parks are decorated with lanterns during this time and is very beautiful."
Yii also traveled on to Beijing, saw the Great Wall of China, and the Imperial Palace.
Her first visit was in 1988 when she met her half-brother for the first time. She returned in 2006.
She said two things that have really changed since 2006 are there are far fewer bicycles these days. She said electric scooters are still popular in Chengdu, but it seems cars are the big thing now.
"Riding in a car or bus feels so much safer these days," she said.
Also, the public restrooms are greatly improved, she was excited to discover.
"Most now have separated stalls, sinks (the men and women often share sinks in a common area) and sometimes even paper is provided," she said. "Very happy surprise!"
Yii's father came to the United States in 1949 to pursue a master's degree, and a better education. He went on to also earn a Ph.D. He met and married Yii's American mother and together they had three daughters.
When Yii found out in 1988 that she had a brother in China that she never knew existed, she went over in search of him.
"It's heartwarming to me to have this other family," said Yii. "To be able to say 'I love you' to this brother and I am so glad God gave him to me."
Yii returned from her journey on Feb. 15, and says she will go again.
Yii has been trying for seven years to get permission for her brother to come here to visit, but to no avail. He is a retired mechanic and would like to spend 30 days here with her and exploring as he has never been.
"It's my heart's desire to welcome him to this country," she said. "We have no trouble going there, but it is more difficult for them to come here."