Moy Zhong: ABC? (American, but Chinese?)


Artist Statement

“ABC? (American, but Chinese)?” attempts to capture my relationship with language and navigating the Asian diaspora. “ABC?” is a series of phone calls with me, my sister, and my mom that primarily switches between Japanese and Chinese. It’s subtitled in English.

Growing up Chinese-American—emphasis on the 'American'—Mandarin was unnecessary. My parents spoke Mandarin, but not my friends, teachers, or anyone in town. 

“ABC?” re-examines my childhood distaste for my mother tongue and why I am choosing to learn it now. Scenes alternate from calligraphy to an Asian market. When writing in Chinese, I fumble even my own name; I don’t remember stroke orders, I’m sloppy. In supermarkets, I search for foods I grew up eating but can never find them by written name either. 

Mandarin Chinese is notorious for its learning curve, especially for English speakers. It’s detailed. When speaking, a wrong tone changes the meaning entirely. In writing, you must remember thousands of characters—not 26 letters. 

I regret rejecting my language, my family’s heritage, deeply. I thought learning Japanese might help bridge my gap with Chinese because they share many characters and meanings, but I was wrong and feel more lost.

 “ABC?” is one step in dismantling my shame and my relationships within the Asian diaspora. I’m still learning the basics of my language, culture, and how to be part of my family. It’s a confusing, meandering, slow-burning process. . . that’s okay. I hope viewers find comfort from seeing my story on screen, especially fellows in an “in-between” like myself.

About the Project

  • Title of Work: ABC? (American, but Chinese?)
  • Medium: Documentary narrative; 10:00 minutes.
  • Student's Name: Moy Zhong
  • Major: Journalism
  • Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2023
  • Hometown: Columbia, Missouri, 65203
  • Student's Mentor: Lynn Kim
  • Mentor's Department: Digital Storytelling


Andrea Heiss

A powerful ending.  I appreciate the quiet introduction of the matter and the "duet" between the narrator and the visuals of the objects in the store.  If only we could absorb a language the same way we can purchase bok choi.  The use of the phone calls, especially between mother and daughter, (and the honest exchange between them) is effective.  A very thoughtful portrait.


Ann Fitzmaurice

Absolutely incredible work. The audio and visuals play together so well, the film captivated me the entire time. You have an honest talent for storytelling, and this is such a work of art. 


George Whit Frey

Moy, as always, your creativity and personality shine through. The mixture between a documentary-like film and a personal essay gives 'ABC' such a unique aura in the world of short films. It's unique to you, but I am sure it is also a story that others can relate to. You're so incredibly talented and I think that Mizzou and Columbia are extremely lucky to have you. Keep creating :)!