The Memorable Experience This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   November 4, 1990 marked an important day in my childhood. It was the day I arrived in America, the day that affected the rest of my life, the day that gave me a whole new perspective, and the beginning of the end. The picture of my home country, Vietnam, began to disappear piece by piece.

I remember a ten-year-old child walking next to his mom and older siblings, looking as lost, confused, afraid, and amazed as he stepped into a country he had heard so much about, but knew nothing about. He was lost because he had stepped into Los Angeles Airport that seemed as big as his whole home town. He was confused because there were so many different people, speaking so many languages (or maybe one that sounded like many) that he could not understand. People twice his size with faces so distant and unfeeling gave him fear. And simultaneously, he was amazed and intrigued at the lights, the computers, and the escalators surrounding him. It was then that he first discovered his dream: a dream of a child, a dream that he would carry, the dream to work with computers. However, the child had little time to think of the future because his relatives soon came. Again, there were more new faces; yet this time, they were strangely familiar.

I had a chance to see my dad for the first tune. He was in his late fifties, of average size, with brown eyes, a touch of white in his black hair; remarkably handsome for his age. I ran straight to hug him, not even sure he was my father. Being in the old man's arm, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. The feeling was so warm; I felt like this was what I had come here to do - to see my dad.

After almost an hour,we went outside. The fresh air ran smoothly through my lung as I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. As I opened my eyes, a whole new line of vision opened before me. The hunger for images increased with every step. It was like that robot in Johnny 5 once said, "More input; more input, needs more input." I needed more sights and sounds.

As I walked toward the car, I did not realized how many cars surrounded me, or the fact that I was going home in a car. I guess those bicycle years on dusty roads were put to shame. The shine of headlights, honking, and the swoosh feeling of a car passing by were new to me. In fact, all were new experiences.

Outside the window of the car, I could see high-rise building in the busy city. The freshness of vines and pines coming from both sides of the roads just cleansed my mind. People on foot adoring nature were barely seen, for vehicles dominated the streets. Headlights, tail lights, street lights, dark light, dim light, and flashy, colorful police car lights illuminated the darkness of Los Angeles' nights. The magnificence of this place was far beyond what I had imagined.

It has now been seven years since that day. These years have almost completely erased the ten years in my home country. Today, only one small piece of that whole image remains in my mind. It is true that the education here is better. I have gained knowledge that would be unattainable in my homeland. It is also true that the living conditions are far more luxurious. My home is a comfortable place, the food is definitely delicious, and beautiful sights are just a walk away. However, the people here tend to be different. People in Vietnam let me in on their secrets, their pain, their happiness; and I could do the same thing with them. They provided me with a sense of closeness and comfort. Somehow, I cannot find that same feeling here; and I miss that. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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