By Jack R.
Grade 4, Maryland
Country of Origin: China

I interviewed an immigrant who came from the southwest of China in a city called Guizhou. Her name is Yutian. She was born in 1960. Her life in China was very simple and her family was poor because her father died when she was twelve. Therefore, her mother had to work and she only got paid 54 yen ($20 US dollars) per month. In her family, there was her mother, younger sister and younger brother. Their house had two rooms, a living room/dining room and her motherĘs bedroom/office. The two girls and their brother slept in the living room. Their mother slept in her office. Eight to ten families shared a tap water spigot and a bathroom with four stalls. Each stall was a long trough in the middle with concrete on either side for her feet. The walls between each stall were only three feet high. The waste would empty into a pool behind the bathroom and was taken out by men in buckets once a month. It was very smelly, especially at the end of the month. These eight to ten families were like one big family in that they looked out for each other. They ate rice, vegetables and noodles, not a lot of beans or meat. Meat (pork and chicken) was rationed because there was not much meat in China. Each person in the family would receive one coupon for meat once a month. They would eat meat about once every two weeks. There was not much freedom in China. They had to do what the government wanted them to do. Everyone had to say the same thing the same way or students could get expelled from school and parents could be publicly ridiculed by leaders for not properly raising their children. In school there were about forty students and one teacher in each class. All students were well behaved. Teachers could physically punish students by making them stand in front of the class for the whole day or by hitting the students. Students were required to memorize everything. There was not much creativity. In school Yutian was taught that Americans were bad. They were Imperialists. Americans fought in the Korean War because they wanted to invade China through Korea. After graduating from high school all teenagers had to live in the country on a farm for two years. Yutian did that. First, they lived in a tent and then they made a house out of rocks, mud and hay with a dirt floor. To get the rocks for the house, they stuck dynamite in the side of the mountain and blew it up. On the farm they had to milk cows and grow vegetables. Yutian was in charge of cooking for 120 people. She did that for two years. From 1963 until 1977, Chairman Mao, the leader of China decided that university students would be chosen by the government because they were loyal members of the party. This method did not work well because many of the students were not very smart. In 1978, the National College Admission Exam was first given. The people with the highest score went to the university. Yutian was among this first class of students. Yutian went to university for four years. She learned English at the university and got a BachelorĘs degree in Economics. After graduating, she worked as a teacher in the university. Yutian wanted to leave China because she wanted to travel overseas, learn more about the rest of the world and have a better life. While she was at the university in China she had contact with professors from other parts of the world and she listened to Voice of America. She learned that much of the history she had been taught was distorted. Americans were good! Yutian left China in 1984 when she was 24 years old. She went to Australia because she got a scholarship to the University of New South Wales in Sydney to get a PhD in auditing. In 1987, she came to America (New York) to get an MBA at Pace University in New York. (Her boyfriend had just come to America to go to Columbia University in New York.) She had to pay for her education so she worked illegally at a liquor shop for 40 hours a week and did tax returns. Each night after working eight hours she would stop at the bakery for pastry and coffee before going to her English class that ended around 9:00 oĘclock. After getting her MBA, she got a job at the American International Group, an insurance company and worked there two years. They sponsored her for a green card (permanent resident). Right now Yutian is an American citizen. She became one three years ago in 1999. In the tests to become an American citizen they asked her questions such as: Who was the first president? Who wrote the Star Spangled Banner? Are you ready to carry a gun for this country? Yutian likes America for its opportunities and if you do not hurt someone you can do whatever you want. Another thing is that if you miss the age in China for college, you cannot ever go. In America there is no age limit for college. One aspect of America Yutian does not like is that there is a lot of suing and fighting going on. Some people abuse the legal system. Business has to pay and insurance rates goes up. Yutian is married to an American and has two children, a six-year old girl and a three-year old boy. They live very close to us. They live in Baltimore. We know them from our old pre-school and our neighborhood.

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