Box of Mysteries

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Wooden box with letters and pictures
Wooden box with letters and pictures

Room after room, crevice after crevice, I sorted everything until we came across the box tucked away in a closet, isolated in its own corner. The wooden box was filled with handwritten letters and pictures that my mom had accumulated since coming to the states from Shanghai, China. I was in awe. The papers were so thin and fragile, and it dated back to the 1980s, and the Chinese characters were finely written. It was fascinating seeing all these letters, and a sobering reminder of the art that has been lost to technology. I kept digging and had my curiosity lead me. I found a sample questionnaire for the naturalization process of becoming a U.S. Citizen. It was my grandpa’s. I didn’t know how to feel. How did he feel? How did everyone else feel? For someone who had no education, as his family was very poor, he had to work diligently and muster his courage to start a new life and come to New York City; for his family, for the future, for us. Despite not understanding the languages and being pushovers because of that, my grandparents, mother, and aunt still had one thing in common before and after coming to the States: they weren’t scared of hard work. From as little as earning $5 an hour, working 10 hours a day, to where they are now, proved that they had the perseverance in them. Thanks to them, I am a first-generation college student, cherishing every moment that they have paved for me. 

Place(s): Shanghai, China, and Brooklyn, New York
Year: 1984

– Alison Wang

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant