When my mother left China, the only things she had in her small suitcase were her clothes, some cash, a jade bracelet, and a book full of names and phone numbers - her contacts in Hungary who would help her get settled. When she got there, she made a living selling clothes and accessories at the wholesale market with some friends. One morning, my mother was working alone at the market, and had to use the bathroom. When she arrived back at her tent, she realized she was missing some clothes, and all of her cash. It was a huge shock to her, and she recalled that after that incident, she was often too afraid to use the bathroom, for fear of leaving her merchandise unattended. Thankfully, my mother kept her valuable objects in her apartment, so her most important possession had not been stolen that day. My mother’s jade bracelet was no Tiffany Diamond, but it held great sentimental value. To her, it served not only as a reminder of the loving family she had left behind, but also as a symbol of the hopes and dreams she had brought across the continent with her. In Chinese culture, jade bracelets are believed to have their own spirit, and protect the wearer from harm. Throughout the countless struggles she faced during her time in Hungary, from kidney stones to appendicitis to thieves who never seemed to quit, the bracelet was my mother’s rock; it anchored her and helped her feel safe and comfortable even as she went through some of the toughest years of her life.
– Peter Yang