My mother came to America in 1993. Unlike my father, who had many relatives who had immigrated to America at the time, my mother had almost no family here. Both my mother’s and father’s families were originally rural farmers from the county of Tiashan. Despite this, most of my father’s family here were able to get blue-collar jobs and made a significantly better living here than back in China. As such, my mother believed that coming to America would enable new opportunities for her family and myself, opportunities that we would not have had back in China. With this in mind, she wanted to bring the rest of her family over to America.
To accomplish this, she would have to become an American citizen; and to become an American citizen, she would have had to learn English to pass the U.S. citizen test. Although my mother had limited knowledge of English due to classes she took in China, she would have to live as a permanent resident of the U.S. for 5 years before she would be allowed to become a citizen through naturalization. As such, my mother bought this English-to-Chinese dictionary in Chinatown in Manhattan back in 1995 to help her. This dictionary would ultimately aid her in her studies, and she became an U.S. citizen in 2000. After the early 2000s, the dictionary was of little use and my mother paid little attention to it. It was not until recently while I was cleaning up the house after some reconstruction that I found it, the book that served as a vessel of opportunity.
– Joe Chen