Chinese-to-English Dictionary

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

When my dad first came to America, he didn’t know a single word of English, but he knew how to fix things and was good with his hands. So, in order to pay for the plane tickets for my mom, grandma, and aunts to come to America he had to work doing what he was good at. One of the first things my dad bought in America was this dictionary. He got a job helping install heating and air conditioners and needed to be able to converse with clients and sales people. I remember my dad would sit next to me, as I did my homework at the dining room table, and unfurl his blueprints and pull out this dictionary just in case he needed it. I would always be amazed at the different characters in the book. Often times I would point to a particularly nice looking one and ask him what it was. He would look at me and say he’d tell me after I finished my homework. When we were both finally done with our work we would sit side by side and he would tell me what the characters meant as well as writing it neatly on a scrap piece of paper. I would attempt to copy his elegant brush strokes, but I always ended up with something that looked like a toddler’s doodling than anything that resembled writing. As I got older we got phones and computers that could do the same job as the dictionary, and it went from the dining room to a rarely opened cabinet. Sometimes though I see my dad open the cabinet and take out the dictionary while wistfully recalling the days he used it.

Year: 2004

– Annie

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