A Better Life
Andrew Chu, Best in Class
My grandpa’s arduous journey to America sounds like a Hollywood movie: robbery at gunpoint and family sacrifice. But his reason for coming is similar to that of the other 41 million immigrants in America today. He came for the opportunity for a better life. I now realize how important it is for me to continue to strive for an even better life too.
His family’s journey to the U.S. started when my grandpa was fifteen. His parents wanted to flee China but could not afford to take the whole family. So they arranged for his oldest sister to be married. They thought she would be better off, but she later committed suicide because she was starving. Because of this tragedy, my grandpa tells me how important family is. To escape China, his family took a sampan to reach a bigger boat bound for Taiwan. But robbers carrying a gun boarded and took all their belongings. Luckily, my great grandmother had sewn some money into the lining of her jacket. This is all my grandpa’s family had left to start their new life.
After several years living with his family as refugees in Taiwan and studying very hard, my grandpa was accepted to study engineering in the U.S. Because of this, my grandpa also tells me how important education is. It creates opportunities! He was so happy to finally arrive in America in 1956, but he had to make the journey alone. His parents never made it to the U.S. He only saw them one more time, 15 years later, before they died.
Sometimes, if I am having a problem, it helps to remember all that my grandpa and his family sacrificed to come to America. If my brother and I start to fight in our shared bedroom, I remember my grandpa once had no home. If I can’t find my favorite T-shirt, I think of my grandpa as a scared child, standing on the sampan, left with only the clothes on his back.
My grandpa’s journey inspires me to try to create a better life for me and my future children and grandchildren. However it was easier for my grandpa’s generation to define a better life: food, housing, clothing. It is less obvious what us third generation Americans should strive for. Is more or less food better? While my grandpa ate every grain of rice so he would not starve, now we stuff ourselves to the point that one out of every three Americans is obese. Is more or less communication better? My grandpa didn’t see his parents for years, but is the constant texting of today actually preventing us from engaging in more meaningful, face-to-face conversations?
The world is rapidly changing. Each generation has its own challenges. I hope I can figure out how to make a better life for my family and my community. I will start by focusing on family and education, just like my grandpa did during his journey to America. Xie xie, Gong Gong!