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Missouri On Mic: Sean Xiaohao Duan and Sharon Gygax

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Sean Xiahao Duan and Sharon Gygax are two people from very different corners of the world. Sean is a Chinese immigrant and Sharon is an African immigrant that both wound up living in Columbia, Missouri. They both spoke with KBIA about how show me state is similar, and different from their previous homes in this episode of Missouri on Mic.

Missouri On Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Sean Xiaohao: I am Sean Xiaohao Duan.

Sharon Gygax: My name is Sharon Gygax.

Duan: I was born in Lanzhou, China. It's the provincial capital the Gansu region.

It's kind of funny to be as Lanzhou is like the Midwest of China. And Missouri is like the Midwest of America.

Gygax: I grew up in Africa, but I live here in Columbia now.

When I first got here I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is gonna be boring. It's so like, so like out there." But once you get to, like know the place and you get to love it.

Duan: I kind of like the fact the weather's a little wilder. A lot of people hate it, but I like the variety. It keeps me on my toes. That's something that's actually a real big difference from the Midwest of America vs the Midwest in China, the air quality here is so nice. The water quality is so nice. I'm very grateful for it.

Gygax: I've lived in different places and most of them was like, they were loud. And like, you know, city... like it was a big cities. And coming here is more like quiet. And it's like peaceful. I'd say peaceful.

Duan: I grew up cooking traditional Chinese food, but I think something I'm really happy about being here in Missouri is I have so many friends who have lived there their whole lives. Their families have been here their whole lives, and they have all these great recipes. And you know, all this very classic country rural food.

I'd have to say, if there's one single thing on my plate that says Missouri to me, it's fried catfish. Love fried catfish. It's trash fish — it's not even very good for you. But it's so delicious and we don't have access to teh coast, but we have access to a big 'ol river. And we've got plenty of delicious catfish just swimming around.

Gygax: Honestly, I love Chinese food. That's what's on my plate.

Duan: with regards to Missouri specifically, I kind of like the shape of our state. It sounds so dumb, it sounds so dumb, but like we're at least not like a Kansas. You know, you can draw Kansas with like a ruler and like 15 minutes a time. But Missouri has... the shape of Missouri a little bit more flavor. It's a little more recognizable. We got our cute little boot heel.

Gygax: I hope that Missouri can grow into like, a bigger place and a better place for people, families to go move here. I hope one day I can raise my family here as well.

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Trevor Hook is a reporter, producer and morning anchor for KBIA 91.3 born and raised in New Franklin, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri with both a Master's degree in Audio Journalism in 2020 and a Bachelor's degree in Convergence Journalism in 2018.