I, John Shen, was born in Nan Jing, China on May 23rd in 1953 during the Cultural Revolution. Things were very tough for me at the time because I had no rights whatsoever. As I approached my twenties, it was my dream and passion to start a new life in America, the land of opportunities. It was the one place everyone wanted to go to escape religious oppression and to live up to your personal potential. I finally had the one chance to go to the place of my dreams on the day of January 17th, 1987 to study at the University of California Berkeley.
I still recall all the excitement on the day of departure. This was it, after all these years. I had always wanted to live in California after hearing so many good things about it. My brother-in-law lived there at the time and he first told me of how nice the climate is and the big racial diversity that existed.
Later, he went on explaining the myriad job opportunities in the computer industry and the high standards of education in the elementary, middle, and high school levels. That only heightened my desire to get there and as soon as possible.
The day before I left, I spent my remaining pocket money on a big meal for my family and me at a very upscale restaurant to celebrate our departure. We really had no belongings to take, except two full suitcases of clothing. All the money I had on me was about $300 US dollars, enough to scrape on by for a month. That day was my first time on an airplane; it was almost an adventure in itself. I had no idea what to do, where to go, and how everything worked, so I had to...