Hello, everyone. I guess, welcome to our podcast: Two Asian dudes talking. I’m Derek sitting beside me is Andrew.
Yeah. greetings to anybody who’s listening. Hopefully, there are people listening. We are basically two first-generation immigrants sharing and talking about experiences on what it’s like growing up in the US. And on this podcast, we’ll share all of our experiences from things we experienced as kids in grade school, to navigating the office environment as adults and from making new friends, to handling relatives from the old country. Our goal is to give you an idea of what we’ve gone through and also what we think as adults, what other first-generation immigrants might have also gone through.
That’s right. And I think you know, we all have our own stories and our story definitely is no different than your story. We all have moments where we, are happy in life, sad in life, whatever it is, you know, we hope that through our story that we will share with you that, you know, you’re not alone. Hopefully, there are moments where you find our story somewhat inspirational. No matter what the connection is we, you know, we think there’s more in common. I think there’s more in common between our story and you that’s listening out there.
Yeah. And, and the other thing is, you know, the, the world is changing so fast that our experiences may soon actually do become unique or, or may even just disappear, or we get older and we can’t remember most of the things we’ve gone through. And for that, for those reasons we want to share it out into the world and maybe even have a way to memorialize it. Hopefully that are still ways will just continue on, you know, in, in cyberspace and, and perhaps even somehow teach the next generation a thing or two about all the things that, that we’ve, we’ve learned ourselves. And maybe you you’ll, you know, throughout these podcasts, you’ll hear something that you can relate to something that, that might inspire you in some way or maybe you just, you know, hear some stories that are pretty entertaining, pretty fun. But in any case, we hope that these are stories that are enjoyable and that these are things you you’ll like to listen to. So with that in this, in our podcast episode, we’ll start by doing a bit of introduction as to we are, and, and you know, who it is that you are actually listening to out there. So with that Derek, who are you where you from, man?
That’s a good question. That’s actually a very interesting question. So in, in, you know, I attend quite a bit of a structural event and a business setting, as well as a social setting. Non-Business related. And one, you know, I would say 50% of the time, the first, you know, icebreaker, when people try to talk to me is like, where are you from? And then I would say probably more than 50% of the time, I would misinterpret that question, thinking, oh yeah, I’m from California, from Los Angeles, Southern Cal. And then, and then, and then you see a puling phase expression and it is like, okay, where’s your origin of country. And then, so I, I tend to, so I really stay brief on my answers. Where are you from? You know, I, I would tell people which, you know, I came from China immigrated here was nine years old and been living in Southern CA ever since. So it’s, it’s, it is, it’s not, I guess it’s not, I guess, terms of question. Most of the time I saw misinterpret dad, but I don’t know. Do you have the same, same
Experience? I mean, I think I mentioned this before, but whenever they ask me where you from, I, I used to hesitate, you know, cuz it’s, it’s such a long and an almost complicated story that it’s, it’s difficult to describe in just a single country name or whatever. I used to say. I used to tell people, oh, I’m from, you know, I was born in, in Vietnam and IU automatically. There’s Sumo, I’m Vietnamese, which, which I’m not, I’m, I’m, I’m actually Chinese. Right. so, you know, and then I’ll have to launch into why, if I was born in Vietnam, how could I possibly be Chinese? So for a while there, I whenever anybody asked, I just said, okay, I’m, I’m, I’m from Hong Kong. Right. Cause you know, I spend most of my childhood in Hong Kong. But the, the issue with that is what, when I was actually in Hong Kong the entire time I was actually in a refugee camp, you know, the, the, the refugee camp itself was actually like one square mile fenced off from the rest of Hong Kong. So as was, I grew older, it became obvious that I can’t really say I’m from Hong Kong maybe because I didn’t live you’re
Limited that square mile. Yeah.
I’m by that one square mile. So I have no, no of the experiences outside, outside of
So, you know, if I say I’m from Vietnam, they think I’m Vietnamese. I say I’m Hong Kong. They assume I have all these experiences that never really did. And part of me wanna say, I’m from China, I’m just, I’m just Chinese and, and be done with it. But yeah, it’s a, it’s been a tough question nowadays though. Actually, when, when now that I’m working, I usually just actually just tell people, yeah, I’ve been living in California most of my life.
Yeah. That’s it? Well, cause that’s, that’s so true for both of us and you know, where I think it was probably three, at least 75%. Our lifetime are now in California, even though that’s not, you know, that’s what not people pursue when they first meet us. But one thing that I like to go back on is like our, our childhood obviously is, is, is a little bit different, but you know, you and I met in, in, in elementary school when we were third grade, say fourth grade, fourth grade, the grade fourth grade grade you know, that’s sort how we like know each Andrew and myself, but going back to that, that, so like the identity, I would say the, the, and being good behind identity, who you really are, you can’t really identify yourself as people from Hong Kong, Onese or Vietnamese. Yeah. My, my experience, you know, I guess when going China, I was, there’s more, certainly at least on my side, I was born in China, grew up.
I was, you know, in Canton, China grew up, my child spent probably my first, well for sure, my first nine years there it is, you know, and, and I came here not through refugee. It’s through more of a sponsorship immigrant where my aunt, my, my father’s sister who actually sponsor us basically she would pledge, you know, that, you know, whoever her, her applicants are that will be, they will be coming here to the us and, you know, financially will not depend on, on the government for 10 or something like that. So it was a much more less challenging, less less of a, more of a easier way to get to the us that then compared to
Europe. Yeah. Cuz I think our, our situation when we were in that refugee camp we basically had to kind of send this. So, so for all the audiences who are listening, who actually doesn’t know, oh, you know, Derek, you don’t know how, how this happened was because in, in Vietnam, in, in Sago or, or Southern Vietnam, there’s, there’s actually a pretty large Chinese community. But, and then after the Vietnam war, when all the troops from, from the us kind of pulled out the north Vietnamese kind of started really cracking down on non Vietnamese. So, you know, any, anybody who’s Chinese was just being picked on quite really badly to the, the businesses
By the Vietnamese,
By the Vietnamese. So like if you have businesses or, or homes, right. It’s, it’s just taken. So at the, at time, a lot of people wanted to just leave. Right. And, and the only way they could was basically to sneak out of the country on these boats fishing boats, like not, not even good fishing boats, like crappy boats, right. So people would be sneaking out in the middle of the night, literally in the middle of the night with all their belongings, get onto the boats and just take off. And everybody has, you know, pulled their money together to kind of, you know, get this one little boat. And it’s a bad boat. And the, and the seas in Southeast Asia are actually pretty rough most of the time. So you have people who, who are dying most of the time when, when they leave on these boats. And you know, if you’re not dying in a storm you’re lost, you’re, you’re dying a Fung, a thirst, or you get, you know, captured by pirates. I, I think I read like I obviously I was a baby at the time, but I, I sense, you know, read a lot of information on it, whole history on it. And like over half of the people, like 50% literally just, just died on, on the, on the journey.
Well, yeah, I don’t know the distance between know that, that part to Hong Kong, but I could surely imagine that specific ocean water is cold and depending on, depending on the time of the year, if it’s winter time, maybe it’s, it’s quite a bit of chatting when you have other people, younger people it could be quite a rough journey.
Yeah. It’s a tough journey. And then the worst part is really screwed up hard. Actually, if you think about it is when, even if they made it to land, most of the countries in that time would actually kick them back out. So even you made it to land, to push you back out to sea and then you’re just waiting there and, and can’t go anywhere. It wasn’t it until like the, the late seventies when the UN actually stepped in and through a lot of charities, like the red cross that they started establishing these camps, these refugee camps, where the, the boats can actually land and they tick in the people. And so my family got there. My family at the time was just me, my, and my parents, the three of us were on this boat. But the
Whole bunch of now, how, how old were you when you, when you oh,
I probably wouldn’t have been more than one or two. At most it was probably two. And then when we landed in the refugee camp you know, it is there, there’s this, you know, it’s a camp nothing’s really official one square mile. Like I said, I think it’s about one square mile.
And then I imagine there’s just other people like you, I mean, it’s like, oh yeah. Thousands
Or, oh I think that the camp was had about 10,000 people. Okay. At S height. Anyway, so when we, in order to get to the us, we submitted paperwork everywhere, not just in the us, but like whoever’s willing to take refugees. Right. and I think we basically waited in that camp for about good seven, eight years.
Oh, wow. Yeah.
So I did not know that. So, so, so you, which makes sense cuz by the time you came to the us, you were eight or
9, 9, 10 or so. So before the us, I was basically in that camp, my entire childhood and you know, it’s it’s definitely for me at the time I seen, you know, Hey, I figured, yeah, it is what it is, it’s life.
Right. Cause you grew, so it’s technically, that’s the environment you grew up in and, and you know, you don’t know what you don’t know exactly. And if you grow up in that one square mile as your home, that your childhood and
It’s because it is so kind of insulated from anything else, I think it affected a lot of my you know, upbringing, the, the education level, things like that. Cuz we learned quite a bit, I think for, for refugee camp. I mean we had classes, you know, given by volunteer teachers basically. You know, I, I learned, I, I remember specific classes like sewing some artwork, I even remember learning English, to be honest. Okay. But the problem was, I didn’t know it was English. I didn’t know what the heck
It was this language that you, you, you can communicate with some,
Some, some language teacher or some teacher. I remember this distinctly because it was so weird. Right. Now that I think about this, it was so weird because the person who taught English was Indian. I remember that, I didn’t know she was, I didn’t know what Indian was, but I know that she was a darker woman who taught us a class and every day we had to go to this class, sit there and she would spout gibberish at us. But at the time we thought was jish right. And didn’t understand it didn’t know what she was trying to get, you know, get us to learn, just sat in there and you know, and just waste the time in there.
Right. But from in that process, you learn English.
Yeah. I think, I think I probably did learn without knowing that I,
Yeah. So, so which, which is very interesting cuz I, when I first met you and one of the things that I was most impressed going through elementary school is your bay to grasp the English language. I mean, I like, see you came here when you, I, I came here when I was naive years old, but as listeners can hear, my accent is much stronger than yours. You know, if, if listeners were to read some of our blogs, they would see that probably Andrew here has probably a much better command of the, the English language than, than I do. Not saying that I’m Greek, but but, but yeah, that’s something that’s, he’s always impressed me now. I know why cuz he’s got a head start. So, so I don’t feel bad for myself, but, but what interesting is that? So I, you know, obviously I, I was born in China, China at a time during late seventies and early eighties, our student going through changes and, and it’s just gone through, it’s like a cultural revolution, right?
My family background were, you know, my grandfather or businessmen and my mom’s side, they’re they’re educated folks because of a cultural revolution. Those people tend to be hit the hardest. So all the wealth, all the property has been titled has been stripped away from them. So, so we were, you know, my parents were, you know, obviously find each other, but we, we were left with close to nothing by all me we’re not starving or, you know, go out bagging. We live me and my brother live a fairly stressful Stressless, excuse me life. I remember going you know, I, we, we have all the we’re running outside. We’re doing the stuff that we like to do. We, you know, certain extent we need to help out with our parents too, but you know, there’s, there’s nothing that’s, you know, that would say, oh, that’s, you know, when I look back from today’s standard, even knowing what I know today, I would not say my childhood is harsh. Yeah,
I would say that one thing, one experience that I do remember is that even, even in Chinese standard, I would say that my parents are very, very frugal. Here’s the story that I, I always remember. We, I was in second grade or first grade and, and, and you know, the school systems there is different, you know, you go to school between eight to 12 and you basically from 12 to one, you get to go home, take a nap, and then you come back to square two, and then you finish the day off from two to four, two to five, I’ve got, but in the morning section, there’s like a recess. What we call snack time here. And what you do is that all the student in class would, you know, basically first, second grade you have a meal is maybe some porch or some yeah.
What we call hall fun, right? Yeah. That, but you need to pay extra for it. Right. You need to pay extra for it. And my parents were too Fugo to achieve whatever you wanna use. You know, they didn’t, they didn’t pay for that meal for me, that’s not, excuse me. And, and, and I vivid, remember I was, you know, class of 30, 30 students, or so I was the only student that did not have a meal. So I, I played it. Cool. I played it. Cool. I was like, Hey, I don’t need it. I’m not hungry. I’m just snack. But I’m, I’m illustrating now to say that, I think, you know, yeah, we have a decent life, but I, my parents are pretty pretty frugal. You
Know, the interesting thing is whenever I tell people, yeah, I grew up in a refugee camp. They always think, oh, your life must have been hard. It must have been tough. But like you said, you know, yeah. It was, it was probably, if you compared to the standard we’re living at today right now in the us, I obviously it’s it’s much lower. Right. But that, going back to that, what you said, like, you don’t know what you don’t know when I was living there in the camp, it didn’t seem that hard. At least to me, you know, for kids, for kids, you know, I’m in there with that one square mile sense. It’s actually enclosed one square mile. You run around, do whatever you want. Cuz there’s there’s, you can’t leave the place. It’s around it by guards. And it’s got a fence. You can’t leave. And since it’s such a small area, everybody literally knows everybody else. So you can’t really get in too much trouble. So kids really just run around all the time, day
Or night. And I imagine those becomes your neighbor, your friends, and your family, and you watch half for each other’s kid, you play with each other. I
It’s actually pretty tight knit group. In fact back, like maybe I wanna say maybe 2010, the captain who owned the boat, that all group came out on. Yeah. Passed away. He was living in Denver. He passed away and my parents and like literally the parents of everybody who ever used that boat and was also part of that camp. Right. Went to his funeral room, you know, for a final sendoff. And most of those people, my parents still keep in touch with me. Most of the kids, I still kid keep in touch with sec, same camp mark. One, one of our friends.
Should we throw off you like that?
Okay. I don’t think anybody’s gonna know who he was. But mark, right. Let’s say we, he, he lived with us in the camp was, was one of our neighbor is I’ve known him since then. And I still know him now. You know, he still,
I, and I know him
Well. Yeah, exactly. So, but going back to that you know, life was what it was like you said, the, the meals in, inside the camp, the, the education system, since it was kinda done by voluntary teachers, it wasn’t really strict. Right. But they taught us quite a bit and we had we had snacks and things like that, but it was actually provided by the school. We, we had like beauty, you know, bread and Vita white line. It’s like Vita, we, right, right, right. You know, so, but everything was I can imagine it was probably much harder for my parents because they were actually working. Right. Eventually within the camp, they, they, after a couple of years of residencies in the camp, they allow you to get an ID and go outside of the camp to work in Hong Kong. But after you’re done working, you just come right back. So you can’t really stay out there. So they, they go out and work from Don to, to dusk, literally from in the morning, you know, they, they hand me like a $2 coin, $2 Hong Kong coin, which
Is a lot. Or is that relatively
For, for me at the time, it was, it was actually enough for me to go and buy a meal, like a meal, like a ramen boat. I remember cuz I loved that. I loved it. You, the school had had this outside cafeteria next to the school. That $2 coin was enough for me to give the guy and get a big, large bowl. At least for me at the time was a large bowl of Ram with a fried on top. Right. And it tasted great. I still think it’s the best Ram I’ve ever had. I mean, maybe my memories are skewed, but I think it’s the best Rahman I ever had. And it was enough for that. Right. So,
So what were your parents doing? Like what job did
They do? Oh it sets me saying my, my dad worked on part of the construction team at, at the time Hong Kong was growing so fast. They were building buildings everywhere. So he was part of construction, but mostly here a day labor, you know, lift this, carry that. Right. my mom though, got a job as a, you know, trash collecting, like literally going to collect the trash and I don’t know what she does with it, but the great thing was she did that around what is a fairly well off Hong Kong neighborhood. So every time, every once in a while she would bring back broken toys for us to play with. Literally like, you know, those there was, was, I remember once she brought back this little cart kind of like a hot wheel, but not powered, it’s a, it’s a manual, you have to push it. It has four wheels except like the, one of the wheels was missing. Right. And, and another wheel was cut in half. So it doesn’t really actually move and it’s all broken, but she brought it back with her. You doing her what?
Play treasure, right.
There’s yeah. We kept that.
What is one man’s trash is treasure. And I could totally see that. You know, I think even though we’re sort in two different geographic area so I, I in my childhood have lot of have me downs. Right. You know, as a matter of fact, you know, cuz me being a younger brother
Yeah. As, as a hand, me dying, including clothing toys as well. And, and, and at a time my parents were similar. So my, my, so my dad was, well actually initially he started off as his businessman of so taking over my grandfather’s business, but because of the culture revolution we lost every day, I clean land and business. So he had to so reinvent himself and essentially everybody at that time in China, this is 19, like I said, 1979 eighties, you say, essentially everybody had to work for a, what we call what they call a, right. So basically you become a member of that, that group and you work for that, that association. So, and he had to become, made a tailor. So, so he would, you know, try to, he would have to first have to learn cuz he didn’t know, he had to learn how to was that assign.
That was, you know, that’s a good question. I don’t know that I was signed or or he actually picked it. That’s a good question. I don’t know, go back and ask him this weekend. So he, he did that and my mom, my mom is, is a unique character and she, she also have a lot of pride in herself, so she would never do stuff that she think that that’s below her, at least at that time. Although when, when we came over to the us, she become a sea seam stress. Is that the right word? Yeah, that’s right word. So she basically saw, and then you get basically a penny piece, whatever it is. Right. very, very hard labor and, and, and yeah, blue collar. But, but back in China she would, she would be very selective on, on what she does.
And when, when she had a, she actually decided to stay home and be like a homemaker, so she didn’t work, but my, my dad saw bring, bring home the bacon, but because of that and, and I think at the time life in China, wasn’t that great. And a lot of people were struggling. We don’t have toys. We, we don’t have, you know, we have a meal in which we’re happy on. So as I learned later in my life, even though me and my brother, you know, go to bed, you know, full every night, my dad actually go through a period where he actually did off a little bit so that we could have the best food like me meeting me and my brother. Sure. My mom probably gone through the same thing. Right. But again, to your point, based on our little universe at that time, everything was, you know yeah. Everything happy. Yeah. Didn’t no, yeah. Hey dude. Yeah. It was fun, but run around, play kids, you know,
But yeah. And then when you, when we get older, we find out it was crappy.
Right. Right. And, and we learn that when we get here and that’s why we, you know, your parents, well, wanna move outside of Vietnam, go well, that’s because your, some force out there and, and, and, you know, try to get to a foreign country. And my parents trying to get to a us right now having get to the us know, having, you know, so I grew up, you know, maybe from nine to your teenager year, how, how do you think that is different from what was, what was the biggest change that you see looking like looking back and comparing the two, what was your first impression? You know, like this is
Us. Yeah. The, the thing is especially from, from where I was coming from. So within the, within the camp itself, right. The us is kind of like almost a myth, right. At least among the kids, it was like, yeah, there’s this fantastic country where there’s gold on the ground. You just pick it up anytime you want. Right.
So for R listener here, I just had a pass man. So, so the us, the translation in Chinese as is, may go. So literally if you take the word, take the two word and transfer letter, meaning as may means building, building beautiful, go as countries. So beautiful C beautiful countries. So,
Yeah. And not only the and then there’s, there’s also you know, the, the slang of, you know, California being dumb song, right. Gold mountain. There’s literally goat everywhere, money everywhere. Right. So, you know, the kids didn’t believe it. We, we figured, ah, that’s something the parents made up, there’s this fantastic country. So the, the thing is though at the time I, through like we, we used to, we in the camp, we had this old television that only got two channels. I don’t know where the two channels came from. I don’t know what it was, but every once in a while, there would be like channels that the shows that describes the us. And then I saw it to become convinced that the us actually existed. And it, and it is there. I remember when we, when we first came here, I didn’t, I didn’t realize that things would be different.
Like, like there would be different measurement systems that there would be different money. There would be different calendar systems. I remember for instance when, when we first came here, if I don’t remember when it was, but my mom was making a comment about the cost of something being like $15. She said $15. She is so expensive, you know, would be much cheaper if it was in Hong Kong, so on, so forth. But I was confused cuz you know, 15 bucks. Right. You know, I could use my, my, my meal every day. It
Was like your Ram bolos, like two bucks. Yeah.
That’s $2 right there. And then, you know, $5 could get you a couple meat meals, but 50 bucks that’s, that’s pretty cheap.
But then it turns out she was talking about, you know, the us dollars versus Hong Kong dollars. So there’s a major difference there. And, and I didn’t realize that until I came here and then various things, you know, the caling system. I think I mentioned this before as well. When I was speaking to a teacher here, you know, I barely came here, voted school. One of the teachers, a Caucasian woman, I don’t know how the conversation came out. But she was asking me when, when Chinese new year was, what date was Chinese new year. At first I was confused. It’s like, obviously it’s January 1st. Right? Why wouldn’t it? What other day could it possible be? Who else would celebrate new year on any other day? Except January 1st. Except, you know, I didn’t realize January 1st in Chinese new year, it’s very different from the January 1st here in the us.
So there there’s, there’s that disconnect of different things, different backgrounds. It’s, it’s difficult to understand the language of course. I remember when I first came I, I think one of the first memories I have of learning the language that have and difficulty with it was with a letter S you know, when things were, I plural, you had to say the S at the end, like tables, chairs, you know, there’s an S I don’t know what it was, but I remember my a student making fun of me in class, cuz I was told to stand up and a say it was just like, it was math class. And now that I remember it and I always had to say this read out this, this equation. It was like probably three plus four plus five plus six or something like along those lines. I remember when I said it though, I forgot the S cuz I just ignored it. I just said four plus six plus seven and, and the kids were laughing at me. It like, right. And I remember thinking what a stupid language, why do you need to add this stuff? Stay the same. If the table is still a table, no matter how many there are, but you know, you need that there that’s, that’s one of the things I had a trouble adjusting
To. Yeah. That’s, that’s certainly a learning experience. So did you start off the safe school that, where I met you? No. No.
When we first came we, I actually lived in San Diego for about six, maybe seven months. So the school, first school I went to was actually in San Diego which was much more, a lot more Caucasians, a lot more but fewer, fewer Asians. Right. Okay. So you know, it was a, it was a kind of a troubling time cuz my, my English skill at the time was really poor.
Well a troubling time, but kids sometimes can be really cruel. Yeah. Yeah.
There’s a lot of jokes around, you know, every time I say something wrong, they a joke
About it. Yeah. No and I definitely so, so I mean there’s, there’s right there. Common ground between Andrea and I, where I, I first came in here you know, landed in Los Angeles and I was, was staying with my aunt who sponsored us, like mentioned earlier. Then she lives in a very affluent neighborhood where, you know, I would say 90%, not Caucasian and wealthy, Caucasian. So I was fortunate enough for, they actually have, I think that’s probably the first class that I attended, that, that, that they cover out a ESL class for me. And maybe it probably just me and my brother, I don’t recall anyone else in there. But everyone else is, you know, you know, blue eyes, blonde hair. And you know, I remember one day, you know, every morning basically when you do element school, you stand up, you do the pledge of Legion.
Right, right, right. You know, it, it, it, it is original for, for all the kids that go to school nowadays back then today. You know, I didn’t know. I, I go in there down, I see everybody stand up, I stand up, you know, they put their headway hand on their hand and they go, basically they imagine, so you just follow, you don’t know what to do, but, but you know, I’m always, I would say probably five, 10 seconds behind everybody. So that’s always like, you know, they didn’t, they didn’t, you know, stand up or laugh at me, it in, in certain sense, but it at least gives me a sense where it’s self-conscious that I am different right. From these kids. Not only, but from physical appearance, but maybe because not going language, not being able to communicate or not understand what the heck are they doing every morning.
Right. And just like, yeah. And we certainly don’t do that when I was in China. That was, that was like, you know, it was, it is like, wow, okay, what’s going on? And I think at those moments when, you know, you were both sorry at the point where we could kind of understand what’s going on our us, but it’s the what’s going on around us has been completely different. Right. Then what’s happened to us in the first nine years of our life. And, and from that point on, I remember, you know, just like from like first day that,
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s actually interesting cuz I’m, I’m now remembering this thing that like, like you said, it’s completely different, right? The experience is different, especially with even the school content itself. I remember again in that class in San Diego it was a, we had a, we had a math test and it was just basic addition and subtraction and I filled it out. Did it cuz we talking about audition and subtraction in Hong Kong, no big deal. Fill it out, turn it in. And the teacher marked most of it improper. She said it was kind of wrong because I didn’t show my work. Right. And, and it was like, you know, three digits minus another three digits
Subtracted, do it in your head, your
And, and I’m done. And, and she walked through the whole paper. It was like, oh, you’re supposed to show how you borrowed here and subtracted it. It was like, okay, why? But yeah, that, that was actually pretty different the, the, the education system. And it’s interesting. I don’t remember having an ESL class in that school. I did have an ESL class when when I came move, moved to LA and then was at gates.
Well, well, so, so I think my disadvantage coming here is that I, I actually does, does not even know a C I, I is in, in, in, in the China school system. Are we need, are we learn? Is pinging. And the way you pronounce a is R B is B you know, a it’s like completely different. Right, right. I’m glad I didn’t make a fool out myself trying to, trying to pronounce that in front of the teacher at the time. But,
And it’s actually probably harder if you’ve had that education in order to learn English because you’re so used to the other pronunciation. Cuz a lot of you know, a lot of friends I’ve known who, who were slightly older and they’ve learned that pronunciation previously. Yeah. And they come here, they try to relearn English with the English sounds. It’s. It makes it much more difficult cuz they can’t get rid of the, the habit of sounding it differently.
Well, I that’s absolutely that that’s, there’s definitely a challenge for me to make that switch. No doubt. But I think I was lucky enough to be here young enough where that switch can still happen. Right. And, and you know, I could, I could somewhat now communicate normally,
Obviously without a huge, too bad of an accent nothing that, not saying that, anything wrong with that, but you know, but that, that transition was happened to me were where I could still young enough to make that transition.
You know, where we actually got a lot of practice with the language is we, we had to do a lot of translations from our parents. I mean, I, I don’t know if you, you did the same thing, but once we, when we came here, there was a lot of paperwork, especially as a refugee moving into the us, there was a lot of paperwork in order to fill it out. I, I had to go with my parents and, and help be a translator at the time black. Like, you know, when we came here in 1980s, was it 86, 87 or so somewhere around there there weren’t translators available. And most of the government facilities that we had to go to there weren’t mostly translators when I, when I tried to apply to school in, in San Diego. So I had to make due and kind of translate for my parents, tell them what, what what was being said and then translate back, which for a kid at nine was difficult.
And, and also strange because I, I, I, my vocabulary, my vocabulary was limited in English at the time. Definitely. But I think my vocabulary in Chinese was also limited because, you know, I was such a, such a you know, young kid it’s, it’s difficult to come up with words and, and, and even know what, what was being said. I remember we, and I was trying to translate this, this document that was saying now I actually know what it is. That’s saying, if you had issues with, with whatever problem that’s being discussed, you can apply for a hearing. Right. Right. At the time I translate to my parents as saying that it means if you have a problem with it, you can go get at a hearing check because you know, to me, that’s, that’s hearing what, what else could it possibly mean?
Right. And, and, and I exactly, and then if, if you have trouble understanding the letter or whatever the document is, and you did your parents give you a hard time. It’s like, what do you go to school for?
Or, yeah, exactly. That, that’s hilarious. I remember once when I said when my, my parents said they wanted to pick up some, some vegetables, some own toy to at the vegetable and they asked me what own toy in Englishes. And I said, I don’t know. I said, why’d you go to school? You don’t know how, how you can’t say all the names of these S
Right. No, it’s, it’s, it is. So, so one thing to know is, and, and, and I’m glad you mentioned that is, is that I think for, for, for, you know, folks like you and I were, we’re the first generation and, and you know, herself as the first kid where our parents are here, whether immigration or refugee, you know, when they don’t know the language and we become sort of the middle man, right. Between, you know, what the, what I would say, what the possibility of opportunity is versus, you know, you know, them trying to, trying to try, you know, see it through your eye, kind of, kind of, kind of thing. It becomes very hard, especially in that young age. I mean, imagine, right. You are nine, 10 at the time. Right. And you have to translate and, you know, make sure you get that document right before for, for all, you know, right. You can get kicked outta country.
You don’t the fear. If you look at it and you translate something incorrect. And, and because of that, you put in some incorrect information, you get kicked out.
Right. So, so I mean, there’s a lot of pressure, right. And, and I think you, and I realize that, and, and you mentioning that story, remind me of a story. And it is kind of kind, well, not kind. It is a very embarrassing story. So, so I, my mom had us when, when, when she was really in her a later age. So I think when she, when she had me almost when she was almost 40, so by the time I’m 10 ish or so, she’s close to 50. And at the time she’s always, she hit her menstrual cycle. You know, that, that period, that, that woman goes through. I, and, and I had no idea. I just realized, I just know, I just remember one day she dragged me to the hospital, cuz obviously she’s going through that face. You know, she doesn’t know.
And you know, basically I need to slave for her. Yeah. And, and for 10 years ago I have no idea what menstrual cycle is. I have no clue what women goes through. And I don’t think my mom realized that realized that because, you know, she obviously did not feel well because of her body. And she desperate me, someone to translate for her, her, she drags me to the hospital you know, and I end up translating. I have no clue what I, what I need to translate when doctor ask, you know, you know, what last time your mom had your period, I was like, and, and I was like, who? And it was, it was kind of embarrassing. And then by the same time, it, it sort of emphasized the story that you just told, translating some important document and, and, and you know, me being there in what I see, what I realize today is a pretty critical moment of my mom’s life.
Right, right, right. And, you know, obviously she’s confused. She didn’t know, she’s not, she’s gonna do something that she might not be aware of. So I was totally lost and I don’t know how helpful I was to her. And I don’t know how we got through it, but it’s just, we, you know, just to say that we are put in a situation where we are, you actually burdening something that’s really, really critical to the rest of, you know, the family or our loved ones. Yeah. Which I think the, our later generation, our younger brother, which I don’t have, you have, might not realize, or might not have been through.
Yeah. I think they, you know, my younger brothers are, are they probably got it a little bit easier in that, you know, if, if it’s translation work, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll do it. Right. Because I’m the oldest I should have learned more, you know? So I, I, I do most of that. And since I’ve already gone through it, like when I apply for school, I’ve already gone through it so I can tell them what, what to expect and, and so on and so forth. And I think even my, my youngest brother, by the time he roll around and get, gets into school, there’s, there’s a lot more translators actually available. They, they went in, you know, at a later, later few years. So it was actually an easier road for them. I wouldn’t say it’s completely easier or simple, but it’s definitely easier in comparison to, to, I think what we went through. So yeah, it’s, it’s it’s, it was an adjustment,
It was an adjustment. It is definitely something that I think is it, it is lost in, in, in, in a sense that, you know, and it, its it’s definit every generation I say. Yeah. You know, obviously to today’s generation go through something different than what we did not saying, not saying that we went through a tougher time or, you know, or easy time for, for that matters. I mean, I think every generation has its own like nuances. And I think that’s exact nuances for our generation. And especially for people like us who needs to immigrant I, or, or moved to a country from, from, from, you know, an, an Asia country or, or, you know, for whatever country, to a brand new environment where we need to adapt. And so like, you know, learn and adjust at a very young age and still be able to sort of do it and and, and look back on it and laugh at and yeah, and that, and then, and when you and I sat down a couple months ago and decided to do this that’s so the, the exact thing that, that we want to do well, that’s some very interesting, fascinating experience.
If we don’t tell the story, it might get lost. Yeah, exactly. Let’s let’s know, let’s sit down, tell our stories. Folks might laugh at it and they might even compare like you, you who’s listening right now might even compare to, you know, the, the, the stage that you’re going through in life and say, Hey, look, that’s something similar. Or, you know, oh, this is completely different. So it’s, it is wherever it is, wherever stage you are and wherever you’re listening to us on you know, there’s definitely a common ground for every generation and, and our, our goal part of our goal is not only share a story is just to make that connection that yes, there might be a generation gap between us, our parents or, and kids, but there’s some commonality between every day. Right.
But it’s, it is kind of interesting. I, I, I would actually love to hear from a new immigrant now, right. Who be with, with the advent of the internet, with, with social media, with everything being so global and connected, I wonder how much that experience that immigrant experience has changed since, you know, technically speaking, they would’ve been bombarded with all sorts of information about this country and about the way everything works through television, through, through social media back blasts or through movies or whatever music, how much that they, they would, they have anticipated that experience coming here. Cause we, when we came there, there was no connection, right. There was a complete wall of information, knew nothing about the country, nothing really about the language or of social behavior or what’s been going on or what’s important and not important, you know? So we came here kind of blind now with all that information to, to the other country flowing pretty much free flowing everywhere. When you come, when you come to a new country, is it easier? Is it more difficult? Is it different because that’s, that’s shell shock of, it’s not quite what I anticipated, but you know, close to it. Right. I, I, I’d love to hear somebody out there who has that experience. It’s just like, let us know about it. Oh, the stuff that’d be great to compare with.
I think. Yeah, no, I, I would love to hear that as well. So for, for those of you who are listening, if you, one of those feel free to leave a message in an email or blog maybe we will get connected with you and, and hear your story. And I do think that, you know, to your point, it’s gotta be a less of a show shock. Right. Cause just because you have some sort of expectation versus you just like what’s going on or,
Or, well, it could be the reverse. I mean, you have the expectation and you come here and it doesn’t meet that expectation. That’s
Oh. Or yeah,
That’d be a punch in the face.
Okay. Well, whatever it is we really appreciate you listening to us. Hopefully you enjoyed this quick conversation. A very brief background on Andrew and I, and we look forward to bringing you more and more stories about us and at the same time we would love you hear from you guys.
Yeah, I’m sure there’s a huge community out there, a lot more first-generation or second generation, if you, you know, have a story to tell as well? Share, share, share, share. That’s the only way we can compare notes and maybe pass on some other…maybe we will learn something from you. You know, we have email, blog, our website 2adt.com, visit it and hopefully we’ll grow together.
Alright, until the next episode…
Take care everybody.