We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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All immigration stories commence with sacrifice. It does not matter when and where it occurs, because taking off on a journey to a new location implicates forfeiting something known. It was challenging  for my parents to immigrate to the United States because they didn’t have enough money to afford a passageway to America. Therefore, in order for my parents to immigrate, my grandparents had to borrow money from their friends and acquaintances. It was a risky choice because my grandparents had to take care of their other children and their income was insufficient.  My mom was more fortunate than my dad because she lived in the city, while my dad lived in a village in a rural area. Even though they were both born in Fuzhou, China, my dad had a more difficult life. My parents worked low-paying jobs to supplement their parents’ incomes and to make sure everyone in their family ate. My grandparents decided to have my parents immigrate to America because living in China was a constant struggle and they wanted my parents to live a better, more comfortable, and less stressful life. Moreover, they heard America was a land of opportunity. My par- ents immigrated to America around 1999, and resided in New York for a few years before moving to Massachusetts. Establishing a way to make a living was strenuous in a new place, especially with a language barrier. A better paying job would require going to college, and my parents couldn’t afford that; therefore, they could only work in the foodservice industry. My parents only received a basic education because additional schooling was expensive and my parents had to work when they were younger.  After living in America for a couple of years, my sister was born. They had two more children in the years that followed. However, if they still dwelled in China, they wouldn’t have been able to have additional children, due to the one-child policy enacted in 1979. The one-child policy eased in 2013, and by 2015 more people were permitted to have up to two children.  My parents repeatedly encouraged my siblings and I to do well in school be- cause they were not fortunate enough to continue their education. I wasn’t even aware of the hardships my parents and grandparents faced until my family and I went back to visit my grandparents a few years ago. Children of immigrants, including myself, are extremely thankful and blessed for the opportunities bestowed upon us by our parents. Their sacrifices led to a better life for themselves, their families, and their future children.  In addition, I learned countless lessons from my parents from listening and learning about their difficult past. I learned from an early age that nothing is given to you; you must earn it, even a simple toy. I would have to behave and help out around the house in order to be rewarded. Learning the importance and value of hard work was extremely important to my parents because they worked hard for everything. I was also taught to enjoy every- thing life offers and to not take anything for granted, because my parents were unable to enjoy their youth. Last, I was taught to be humble, and to always help people, especially those in need. My parents inspire me to be independent and persistent, so I can live the life they wish for me. 

© Nancy Chen. 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.