Mu Lan, an ancient Chinese heroine, became globally famous thanks to Disney’s awesome animated film. Arguably, she is one of the most popular Asian figures in global cinema, besides Kung Fu Panda, Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.
For most women in China, Mu Lan probably lives only as an on-screen character. But our guest today, Lila Stange, feels related to this figure in a very personal way.
Mu Lan pretended to be a man in order to become a soldier and take her father’s place on the battlefield, later becoming a general and finding a completely different life. Lila’s life shifted in a similarly dramatic way — from being abandoned as a baby in the small town of Fuzhou in China’s Jiangxi province, to being adopted by a lovely American couple and a happy family in Boise, Idaho, in the early ’90s.
Unlike many adopted children, Lila knew growing up that she was adopted, and where she was born — it was never an issue for her. On the contrary, she directly embraced her Chinese identity. She being one of very few Asian people living in Boise, Lila’s parents made an effort for their daughter to keep in touch with her Chinese traditions: they celebrated Chinese New Year and other festivals. Lila has been curious about her Chinese identity, and bravely exploring it — she came to China to study Chinese, and later returned for work. It’s been a special journey, she says, though not always a rosy one.
Today, Lila joins us to tell her story and share her amazing life adventures. As she says: she wants to be her own Mu Lan.
Previous episodes of the Wǒ Men podcast can be found here, and you can find Wǒ Men on iTunes here.
Have thoughts or feedback to share? Want to join the discussion? Write to Yajun and Jingjing at [email protected].
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