Where It All Started

Born in a small town in central China. I have been traveling since as long as I could remember. Since my father and my mother came from different parts of China, I have always been riding different trains and buses back and forth between different parts of my extended family. It was from then I started liking to learn cultures from other places. As a kid I learned 5 dialects and I was always interested in learning new behaviors from people around me.

My first big trip was coming to United States. I was 12 back then, I remembered how excited I was when I stepped into a brand new Boeing 777 going from BeiJing to Los Angeles on the Valentine’s day of 1997, and then how scared I was when I was just a couple thousand meters up in air. There were flower sellers everywhere in the airport and strange-looking people busying coming and going to somewhere. Where are they going? I thought. What is it like in America? Is everything really better? I remember how clueless when my mom and I were picked up by my dad at the airport. I remember how I thought that coming to America would answer all the questions I have about the other world that I never knew.

Actually, moving to America was actually a lot different than I thought – and a lot worse. Kids were discriminatory towards me – especially those that actually spoke Chinese (ironic, right?). Unfortunately, I only spoke Chinese at the time, so I spent a very lonely first year and half in English As Second Language (ESOL) program. I complained so much that we thought about moving back to China. Eventually my parents wrote a note to school and they moved me out of ESOL program and into another school. This adjustment actually improved my everyday life dramatically. I actually learned my English much faster when studying with normal kids instead of the handicapped classes prepared for foreigners. From then, I also start to appreciate opportunities being challenged intellectually (since the ESOL classes were too easy for me). I enjoyed learning complicated processes and solving long-winded problems. Within a year I made into the honors program, and four years later, I graduated top 3% from a very competitive high school.

Years later my mom would ask if the decision to move to America was a good one for me. “Yes, mom” I explained, “as you see, I love to learn about other countries. If you don’t bring me here when I was younger, I will eventually work myself to here because I want to learn about people different from us. Just because we stay in China doesn’t mean that I don’t want to travel to other parts of the world. I will just have to wait longer in this case.”

If anything, I do believe this is all part of God’s plan.