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Maryland

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

On November 23, 2003, I interviewed Dr. W. S. Dr. W. S. was born in Taiwan. She was originally from Mainland China, a city called Tienjin (a major port town 80 miles south of Beijing). Life was very difficult in China during the 1940's. First there was World War II, then the Communists, then the Sino-Japanese War, where Japan invaded China. The Japanese were very cruel to the Chinese. Dr. W. SĘs parents left Mainland China in 1948 with the last group of refugees who left the mainland. They stayed as long as they did because they were trying to convince other family members to leave with them. At last, Dr. W. SĘs parents gave up and left on their own. They were trying to get away from the Communists. Finally they escaped China across the China Sea from Nanjing to Taiwan. The boats only left at night because they were afraid to be spotted. People were allowed to bring only one trunk and no children because they had to be absolutely quiet. Dr. W. SĘs father and mother put their two girls, ages 2 and 4, in the trunk with some food and water and told them to be silent. They were quiet and the family arrived safely in Taiwan. 2 Their relatives, who stayed in China, were educated professionals and were treated very badly by the Communists. All their property was taken away and they were forced to work in the fields. Some family members were imprisoned and tortured. Two of Dr. W. S's uncles have life long illnesses from being forced to work in the fields. Her father left 6 younger brothers and her mother left 4 older brothers. Although Dr. W. S's parents and sisters had nothing with them but their clothes when they arrived in Taiwan, they were able to live well because of the contacts Dr. W. S's father had. He was an architectural engineer. First he became a Colonel in the Army Engineer Corp. They lived in army housing. Dr. W.S was born in 1956. Her mother lost two boys in childbirth, one in 1951 and another in 1961. Healthcare was not always very good in Taiwan. Her mother had a wonderful woman OBGYN when Dr. W. S was born, but this woman was not available when the boys were born. This is why Dr. W. S became an OBGYN. Later her father left the army and went into private practice as an architectural engineer. He designed a University in Taiwan. Dr. W. S. visited Taiwan a few years ago and the University was still in use. The family lived in a very nice house that was very grand for Taiwan. It was two stories high with a roof garden, which was Dr. W. S's favorite place to play. It had a huge living room, formal dining room, a kitchen out back, three bedrooms on the 2nd floor, an indoor bathroom- and that was a very big deal. They were wealthy by Chinese standards. Dr. W. S. went to a private school. There were about 20 children in a class. A school day was about as long as our school day, 8 to 3; they went 6 days a week. Sunday was their only day off. They did have two holidays, Independence Day (Sino-Japanese War) on October 10th and the Chinese New Year, which is on the Chinese calendar either in January, or the beginning of February. The longest holiday from school is the months of July and August. The food that Dr. W. S. ate growing up was different and maybe more healthy than in America. She ate soybeans, soymilk with hot sugar, Chinese bread, wheat and sesame, and fried dough dipped into soymilk. At lunch and dinner they always had rice, vegetables and fish or meat. Dr. W. S. ate fish or meat every day and that is good protein. While in Taiwan her mother didn't work outside the home. She was her Dad's business manager. In 1964 Dr. W. S. left Taiwan at the age of 4 eight. First the family went to Brazil. They stayed there for two years. Soon after her tenth birthday Dr. W. S. left with her mom, dad, and middle sister for America. Her oldest sister was already in the U.S. studying at Cornell University. They immigrated to the U.S. for a better life. The special thing that Dr. W. S. brought to America was a crate of dolls. The family traveled by plane first from Taiwan to Brazil, and then from Brazil to the Kennedy Airport in N. Y. Dr. W. S. still remembers how huge the airport was. Next they traveled to Poughkeepsie, N. Y. She attended a Catholic school. Since Dr. W. S. spoke Chinese and Portuguese, she was assigned a girl who spoke Spanish and English. They communicated fairly well and she learned to speak English at school. When Dr. W. S. compares Taiwan and the U. S., one of the biggest differences she believes, is that in America she can speak freely without the fear of punishment. Dr. W. S. remembers when as a small child living in Taiwan, the Taiwanese said they were going to conquer Mainland China. She knew it was a ridiculous idea, but her parents shushed her. They were not allowed to speak freely because they could be arrested. In the U. S. she can voice disagreement with public officials and nothing happens. Dr. W. SĘs children can criticize President Bush and they are okay. 5 In 1978 after Cosigner and President Nixon helped open China, her father spoke to his family for the first time since 1948. He visited his family soon after. His family agreed they should have left with him and immigrated to America, too. Dr. W. S. became a citizen in 1977 in her senior year while attending University. She visited China in 1985. China had changed but not for the better. It was hard for her to realize what her life would have been like if she had stayed. Several cousins have come to the U.S. to study and some of them have stayed, but most have gone back to China to be with family. She continues to communicate with relatives in China. Life is much better there now. Dr. W. S. still can speak Mandarin Chinese. Dr. W.S. is glad she immigrated to America. She doesn't miss anything about Taiwan. Although she was born in Taiwan, she considers China her true home. Taiwan was only a layover.


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