There might have been more trips between Taiwan and America that I made. I traveled so much, and I frankly lost track, but the 4 major ones are the ones I could remember, and I’d like to share them with you.
When I was about 3 years old, around 1994, I visited the U.S. for the first time with my mom and my older sister. We lived in Richmond County, Ga., with my aunt and uncle who were already naturalized U.S. citizens. My mom started on the applications for green card (permanent residency) for me and my sister during that time. However, my mom had to work and thus she returned back to Taiwan after getting all the paper work done.
In 2000, my sister and I finally became green card holders. Yes, it indeed took us about 5 years to receive our green card. It might sound long, but it was really not bad considering how much that process has since then complicated after 911. Even now I’m thinking about it–Thank God that we got our green card before the terrorist attack in 2001. If 911 had happened earlier, I would have not been here that easily if I was even here at all.
Anyways, back then, my mom took us back to the U.S. again and left us in my aunt’s care. My mom wasn’t able to stay in the States with us because she was the sole income for us, and leaving her steady job to come here wouldn’t be feasible. My sister attended 7th grade at Morgan Road middle school and I attended 4th grade at Glenn Hills Elementary school. That was my first face-to-face contact with my peers berating me because I was a foreigner, which I later realize that proper term was ‘bullying’ and ‘racism’ as I got older. The discrimination that I witnessed was just like the depiction in the Hollywood movies. On the other hand, the impression of Americans in my mind, has always been selfless, truthful, big-hearted, and forgiving. This country has been my admiration of diversity in ethnicity and heritage, and everyone was so unique. I can learn so much from everyone. I was only able to stay for one year however, because my mother missed us. She flew 6,000 miles to America to see us, and she took us back with her to Taiwan.
In 2003, my sister and I made another visit to the U.S. again, but this time my mom wasn’t traveling with us. We were still joined by our aunt and uncle. However, this time we toured the West side of the U.S., including California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. We visited the Disney Land, Universal Studio, Grand Canyon, and yes, Las Vagas. My memory of Las Vagas was mostly hotel rooms, to be precise, the TV in the hotel room, and those TVs back in the day weren’t HD or flat screen back then either. Sadly, I wasn’t really old enough to do anything. After the tour we returned to Taiwan in order to continue our middle school.
After many trips back and forth between the two countries, my sister and I became slowly more mature and old enough to make our own decisions. In 2005, my sister returned to America by herself to pursuit future education. On July, 27th, 2006, I, too, joined my sister in pursuing future education in the States, leaving my mother in Taiwan. We made the decision on our own this time, and our decision was to stay in the U.S. for a while– maybe permanently.
You can read about the reason why I decided to come to America in my previous blog: What Actually Matters.
In our aunt and uncle’s care, we graduated from Lakeside High School, My sister was admitted to UGA in 2007, and I was admitted to ASU in 2009. And as it turns out, we were successful academically and socially. The journey to America became an indefinite one. I have been living in the U.S. permanently since then, and I have to say I have been a real American: going to public schools on weekdays, watching sports at night, and worshiping at churches on weekends, in addition to volunteering for charities, participating in student activities, working in the society, paying taxes to the IRS etc. Nevertheless, I have never once forgotten about my family and the delicious cuisine back in Taiwan. I made occasional visit to Taiwan during my summer breaks to meet up with my mom and my family members.
You might ask why did it take so many years for me to be settled on staying in the U.S. permanently? It was quite obvious…..I was young, too young to understand how I am going to settle the rest of my life.
So now you may ask, why did my mom apply green card for me?
Well I also found that out myself not too long ago, and let me tell you–
During December of 2013, I returned to Taiwan to see my mom during the last winter break before I graduated. On a casual afternoon, my mom was cleaning up her old closet and found lots of old letters packed up in a box. Growing up, my mom embedded in my head as a very private person. I was quite stunned to see my mom reading into the old memorable relic, and she even took out the papers from the envelopes one by one to share them with me. Those letters were in fact love letters. I was little bashful to read love letters between my parents. Even thought it was a a little awkward at first, I was glad that I read most of the letters, because for the first time in my life, I was able to see the love that my parents had for each other, and their child.
My dad was a sales person, and he went on a business trip to California in the 1980s. He was impressed by the environment, people and the culture in America. He wrote to my mom about how he envision the future of his family in the States. In the letter, he mentioned a lot about his concern for her and their first child, which was my sister. He deeply cared about their well-being, health, and success. He was also a man with a bright ambition and ideas to better their lives. Again, in every letter sent to my mom, my dad ends with “die Liebe meines Leben.” To my surprise, that was my first time knowing that my parents spoke German to each other every now and then.
It was unbelievable how things actually rolled out that way- My mom applied for green card because it was once my dad’s wish, and I fulfilled it as I obtained a degree and a job in the States. But just think about it. This is crazy! I had no clue what my dad hoped for because he past away before I was born, and my mom has always been quiet about him; yet, I was still able to carry out what he actually had in mind many many many years ago.
A journey to America has truly been a destiny flowing in my blood stream. My journey to America actually started even before I was born.