We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofCheuk Yin Cho

I, like many other Americans, am an immigrant. I was born in Hong Kong, China, and spent five years of my life there before moving to Quincy, MA. My family all originates from China, and for the early years of my life, all I knew was Chinese culture and traditions. I knew nothing of what life was like in other Asian countries, much less in America. In 2009, my parents decided we should move to the United States, as my grandparents on my father’s side were already living there, and as they were starting to get older, they would need us to look after them. When I found out I would be moving, I was excited at first, because I was always excited to experience something new, but as the move date grew closer and closer, I grew anxious. I realized that I would be leaving behind my close family, and my best friends. My mother was also not leaving at the same time as my father and I because of my little brother, who was recently born. When I reached America, my father and I stayed at my aunt’s house, as it was the only place we knew of. My aunt had been in America for around 10 years by the time we arrived, and she helped us get accustomed to everything.  One of the first things I noticed when moving here was just how quiet it was. The airport we landed at was much smaller than the one we left, as was the city. We arrived at night, and already everything was much quieter than I was used to. There was no night life in Quincy, everyone was already at home. I was not used to seeing individual houses either, as in China, there were very few individual homes and most people lived in high-rise apartments. My aunt’s house was the first time I was in a residence that consisted of only two stories, and it was very intriguing to me, as my home in China was quite small, and I never had a flight of stairs, much less an entire second story. The first few days in America were very slow, as I arrived during summer break. I mostly stayed home, afraid of what was out there and how I would fit in. I missed my mother and wished she would arrive more quickly. There was no one I knew here, and no one I could turn to for friendship. Eventually, I was able to get accustomed to everything and explore the area.  We moved out of my aunt’s house around a month later, and again moved into a small multi-family house in North Quincy. I was enrolled in school shortly after and got to interact with other kids my age for the first time. On my first day, I remember having name cards on the table we were supposed to take, but I could not read which one was mine. I was very confused and realized how different everything was. Before, I thought the world was quite small, and I saw a large part of it from my small apartment in Hong Kong.  Learning English was a large struggle for the early part of my life in America, but since I was young, I was quickly able to learn it from listening to the people around me. Since we moved to Quincy, where there is a large Chinese population, I was able to make friends with people who were also Chinese. They spoke English, and knew American culture, yet still practiced the Chinese culture that I was used to at home. As time passed, I realized that I could fit in, change, and get accustomed to living here. As I grew old- er, I started to realize that I am not only just Chinese, and that I too, have become an American. 

© Cheuk Yin Cho. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.