We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSiying He

For most of my life, I lived in China with my grandparents and dad. My mom left and came to the U.S. when I was five. In those seven years, I didn’t have any understanding of the internet and didn’t  have any knowledge of video games or anything connected with social media. Back in China, there’s some Internet in school for kids my age, but it is limited. I had a lot of good relationships with a lot of people. I also had a good relationship with my dad, but not my mom because she came to the U.S. when I was five, so I hardly knew her. Even when she was with me, all I remember from my childhood was her working toward future plans like coming to the U.S.  My mom got settled in the U.S. without me. I didn’t know when I would be coming with my dad to Illinois. They lied to me, and just brought me one day to America with no warning. I still remember my grandparents crying when I got to the airport in China. After a day of flying to America, my dad and I got there. I saw my mom, uncle, and aunt, and after we put our luggage away, we went out to eat. I was crying on the way, because I was wondering where my grandparents were.  After two years of being in America, both of my parents got really busy, and I always had to stay home by myself. The years passed, and it was time for middle school. My mom really hates video games and all that stuff online, so I had always been a respectful lady in front of them. I always kept all my emotions to myself because I wanted to be a proper girl to my parents, and because I don’t want them to worry about me. The summer before fresh- man year, I started to make friends on the Internet, and it was the first time I felt happy because I had found people to talk to and they understood me. Against my parents’ wishes, I started to play video games and chat with them instead of doing things my mom told me to do. Night after night, I chatted with those people and started to learn bad words, and to act like a bad girl on the Internet, but never in front of my parents.  When I came to America, I had a lot of stress. My parents think reading and learning can solve everything, but not me. It was through my new online friends that I felt like I was learning the most I ever had. One night, while chatting with friends online, my mom came home. I was on voice chat, and my mom came upstairs quietly. She knocked on my door and said, ”Siying, who are you chatting with?” Of course I got scared, so I hung up the voice chat. My mom started to yell at me, saying, “SIYING, open the door right now.” I opened the door and answered her: ”I’m not chatting with anyone.” She didn’t believe me, so she took my phone. I thought I had turned off my phone, but I hadn’t. After a few minutes, my mom got really mad because she saw me post some bad words and a picture online. I went downstairs, and she started yelling at me. She wasn’t listening to me at all. I started cry- ing because I felt so mad; why can other kids swear and I can’t? Why can’t you listen to my stress and listen to what I really want? We had a really good talk that night, and I cried for a long time. After we had that serious conversation, we are now on the path for a better relationship. I guess being honest and communicating from the start could have avoided a lot of issues. 

© Siying He. 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.