My American Dream
“The letter is on the dinner table,” said my grandmother. I knew it was coming, and I went to the dinner table in haste. I could not wait to open the letter, which was sent from my parents, who were living on the other side of the earth. Inside the envelope were three pages of a hand written letter in Chinese and several photos of my parents with my siblings. The first line of the letter translated as, “We waited so long, and the day has finally arrived. You are coming to the United States soon.
Your case has passed.” My father left me for his American dream when I was one year old, and I saw my mother only once before I came to the United States. While my parents built their new life in the United States, I lived with my grandparents for fifteen years in China. My grandparents hoped chess would be my ticket to the United States to meet my parents, so they started to take me to chess school when I was four years old. I even entered many competitions throughout China. However, my talents did not take me outside of China.
Finally, I got my documents accepted in 2009, and although I did not speak a word of English, my life would begin in the United States. My first couple of months of high school in my new country was a great challenge for me. I was excited about coming to the nation and seeing my family, but I was also frustrated with the language. I was not afraid, even when everyone looked at me differently; but I could not communicate with anyone in the school. At the very beginning, I feeling like an outsider, I was sitting in my biology class and the only word that I understood was “dinosaurs”.
My parents only spoke a fair amount of English, and my American-born siblings spoke a fragmented combination of Chinese and English, which was difficult for me to understand. I could barely communicate with them. Overtime, however, we helped each other learn one another’s language. I used to spend hours on the homework with my electronic translator for every single word. I was nervous to talk to people but I slowly began to enjoy learning a different language.
Two years later, I am participating in all my classes, understanding people, working in groups with other students, going to chess festivals, and even joining math the team. Although I have at times struggled to adapt to my new home and family, I realize how fortunate I am. I look forward to more opportunities to challenge myself when I enter college next fall.