July 25, 2008
By Jennifer Ning, Upland, CA

“Dad, the clouds look like waves!” I exclaimed at the age of four, sitting in a plane that was 30 minutes away from America, and 16 hours past China, my native country.
In 1995, my dad decided to move me and my mom to America. After living in California for a short time himself, he was fascinated with how advanced and clean the country was compared to China. Then he thought how nice it would be, for me to grow up in the country that can offer me a better future. The decision to move meant that sacrifices were inevitable. When my parents left China, they were officially leaving their family, friends and careers; my dad’s job working in the government, my mom’s position as a doctor.. Above everything my parents had to give up, they also had to come to terms with the fact that living in America for the first few of years will be exceedingly difficult. After all, they were coming to a country where they didn’t speak the language, and continuing their old careers was impossible. Despite all the negative aspects of moving, they were determined to focus on the long term goal, which was to provide a better future for me, their only daughter.
Once my parents and I arrived in America, we were immediately hit with the first conflict; English. This language barrier was the reason why my dad was only eligible to work at a sushi restaurant washing dishes while my mom worked as a babysitter. Because of this disadvantage, our income was extremely low, which made us search for every possible way to earn extra money. At age five, me and my mom would carry a plastic bag and collect empty cans to recycle. Through the hard times I’ve face with my parents, I rapidly matured at a very young age. Even though I was only five, I accepted the fact that we needed to work hard as a family and that giving up was never an option. I learned to appreciate what I had and to always focus on my dreams and goals. These lessons eventually helped me through my own struggles during my childhood.
When I started 2nd grade, I was able to communicate in English, which was a huge accomplishment; however, I still had trouble with writing correct English sentences, and my comprehension skills were lacking. At times I felt frustrated with my inability to master the language, but I attempted to turn my frustration and angry into determination and a desire to do better. My parents felt helpless seeing that I was struggling with something they couldn’t help me with. All they could do was remind me that in order to achieve my goal, I needed to be patient. As the years went by, I had improved from; barely getting a message across, to engaging in long conversations. My writing skills improved simultaneously. In 6th grade, I felt so confident that I even entered a short story in the annual Reflections contest, and was later announced a winner in the literature category. From then on, I feel in love with literature and dreamed of becoming a journalist. I knew that my English had to be even better to even consider the career, so in 9th grade I took the test to get into the honors program. After taking the honors test for the first time, my confidence was crushed when I found out I didn’t pass. I was so disappointed in myself and I felt like giving up. Luckily, my parents were understanding and encouraged me to try again. They reminded me of how far I had come, and through their lecture I realized I was a fool to even think about giving up. If my parents had given up on their aspiration, I would never be able to be fluent in two languages, or have the opportunity to apply to a UC. With this new mindset, I proceeded with my ambition, and was admitted. When my counselor told me I passed the test, I felt that my hard work had finally paid off. It was a long and frustrating process, in which I had patiently stuck with since the beginning of my childhood, and at last, with my parent’s guidance, I have succeeded in getting one step closer to my dream.

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