The jade bracelet was mailed to my mother by my late grandmother as a wedding gift. Since they were separated by an ocean, it was the only way she could be there for her daughter. My mother came to New York in 1994 when she was 18; my father came in 1992 by boat. They both found work in Chinatown in Manhattan, where they were able to find comfort in being surrounded by people of the same language and culture. My parents ardently believed in the American Dream- the idea that an immigrant with nothing can become successful through hard work in a land of opportunity. In Chinese culture, jade is a symbol of love and protection; my mother says that if the bracelet becomes chipped or cloudy, it is because it has absorbed the harm or negative energy that would otherwise have befallen the wearer. Jade bracelets are difficult to remove once they are put on, and it is said that it should be worn frequently, otherwise it will turn white and die. My parents have endured much hardship to get to where they are now. My mother was a young girl in a new land; she remembers the very day she got off the plane because the news was a covering a tragedy about a ship with immigrants on board. It only reminded her of how dangerous yet rich this new land was. The jade bracelet is a family heirloom passed down from mother to daughter. No doubt the jade has guarded the women in my family for generations. My mother wears it as a daily reminder of her roots, telling me that it will one day be mine.
– Angela Lin