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Cindy Toh Mei Li,10

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About Cindy Toh

Cindy Toh Mei Li is a 9-year-old who frequents Tak Takut Kids Club daily. Despite the challenges of growing up in a single-parent household where her Vietnamese mother understands very little English and shuttles between two jobs, Cindy finds her way to remain an articulate and imaginative child.


Featured Caregiver:

Mother, Nguyen Ngoc Thi Hien

Dish of Choice:

Fish sauce chicken wing


Have a listen to Cindy's reflection in this journey of documenting her mother cooking chicken wings or read on in the transcript below.

Interview with Cindy
00:00 / 04:46

Shiyun: Is there something you would like to tell our listeners?

Cindy: Like… What kind?

Shiyun: Maybe you can share your experiences doing this project

Cindy: My kitchen is kinda squeezy, so I kinda had to like… squeeze everywhere (laughs)

Shiyun: You mentioned something during the process that I remember very clearly. You said that your mom is so fast in doing everything

Cindy: Yes. When I’m hungry, she cooks very fast like chicken and rice. When I told her when I’m hungry and I want ramen, she made the ramen in like 5 seconds and I was like “heh”


Shiyun: Do you feel like you always have to catch up with her?


Cindy: Sometimes


Shiyun: But you’re like the opposite- Yeah I think you tend to do things fast

Cindy: Even if I have a family in the future, I think I will be a slow mother (Shiyun laughs) because I have so many chores to do for my kids


Shiyun: Yeah you might probably ask them to do everything


Cindy: Well I might not have a family, I might have a youtube channel


Shiyun: So the youtube channel is your family


Cindy: For my subscribers right (laughs)


Shiyun: Have you taken photographs of your mom?


Cindy: When I’m young


Shiyun: When you were younger? Not now anymore?


Cindy: I think I was around 3 or 4


Shiyun: Do you think about having photo albums?


Cindy: My mom… I don’t know. To me, is no.


Shiyun: To you, is no? So photo albums are not very important to you

Cindy: Well I think my mom is… I’m not sure yet. I don’t know her very well


Shiyun: You don’t know your mom very well


Cindy: Me and my mom don’t know each other very well, because I speak a lot of english and she gets confused by most of ‘em


Shiyun: Oh okay… confused with most of what you are saying?

Cindy: Because when she goes somewhere and meets people who speaks english to her, she’s like - this is why when she goes around, she always brings me around, just in case someone needed to speak english to her

Shiyun: Can you tell us a bit more about your mother?


Cindy: She has 2 jobs, one early in the morning, and another in the middle PM. Yesterday, I waited so long for my mom because she haven’t like, even come home, so me and my dad waited for her until the morning.


Shiyun: Was she working?


Cindy: Very late


Shiyun: So both of you couldn’t quite communicate that much, because she speaks vietnamese and chinese


Cindy: yeah, a little bit of chinese


Shiyun: A little bit of chinese, and you speak a little bit of vietnamese and english


Cindy: Yes


Shiyun: How do you think in the future, both of you can communicate? Do you think about such things?


Cindy: I tried learning more vietnamese, sometimes my mom and my grandma speak to me in vietnamese. Some of them I understand, some of them, I don’t know yet

Shiyun: How is it like growing up as a Chinese vietnamese?


Cindy: I don’t think I’m a chinese I feel more like a english child


Shiyun: You feel like you’re an english child


Cindy: Because I was born here, so I speak a lot of english, to english people


Shiyun: If there was one day you could spend with your family, where would you want to bring them to?

Cindy: A vacation, where they could stop working and rest


Shiyun: Where would that be?


Cindy: I think I will try to bring them to Hawaii, try to let them speak english a little bit more


Shiyun: Where would you want to bring them to again?


Cindy: Hawaii


Shiyun: Oh, wow. So that they can speak more english


Cindy: Well, try


This project was completed in 2022. Photography mentored by Larry Toh.

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