Choosing California for its Diversity (Taiwan)

University in Taiwan that my Dad attended


He answered my questions while eating his favorite Taiwanese Boroh bread from his favorite Taiwanese bakery. The story started at his age of 30. At the age of 30, my dad’s name was still Jyhgwo Chang, a traditional Taiwanese name. After he became a U.S. citizen, he added a middle name Benson and change his name to Jyhgwo Benson Chang. And the following years, he goes by Benson. He said “Having an English name makes it easier for people to pronounce and conform to US naming conventions.

 Also, many people I know with names from different cultures often adopt English names or nicknames for convenience and ease of communication in the English-speaking context.”  The year was 1991. “At the age of 30, I immigrated to the U.S. from Taipei, Taiwan. My citizenship process is pretty simple compare to others. I came to the U.S. to study for my Ph.D. as an international student. I got the H1B visa, then I apply for a green card, and then apply for citizenship. All immigrants know that the immigration process can often be daunting and expensive. And it is expensive for me at that time too. When the time I applied for the green card. To save time and be more effective because I am still a student, I choose to hire a lawyer to do that for me, so I spent about $3000 on that.

The most memorable experience in my immigration journey is that citizenship interview it only took me like 5 minutes. At that time, I already work in a big defense company, so when the interviewer sees that, he make everything goes very easily and fast. He congratulated me and said, ‘Yes, you pass.’ ”

My dad was an excellent student back in Taiwan, he went to one of the leading universities – National Chiao Tung University. Then he went to National Taiwan University for his master’s degree. Finally, he went to Lamar University in Texas for his Ph.D. He told me that “It was very exciting for me who was already working when I knew I had an opportunity to study abroad.

The first reason I choose the country U.S. is because I only know English as a foreign language. Second is the weather. The weather in Taipei was warm and hot all four seasons, I can’t tolerate the weather in Canada due to the cold winter, also I hate snow. As a result, I came to the U.S. and studied for my Ph.D. at Lamar University, a school in Texas. I actually think this school is easier than the two colleges I went to in Taiwan. Maybe Lamar University is not a very competitive school so I almost got a straight A. For all my classes I only got 1B.”

At this time, I was thinking why he chose this school instead of other more competitive schools to challenge himself. He seemed to see my question from my eyes and then replied: “The reason to choose this school is this is the only school that gives me a full scholarship and gives me the chance to teach in the College of Engineering so I can save a lot of money. I don’t have that much money at that time and my family isn’t that rich to support this big cost, so I have a part-time job as a research assistant and teaching assistant.”

After Dad went to that university in Texas, his life was enriched and he was always busy, but sometimes he missed the old life because of the new environment and the unfamiliar place, which increased his homesickness. He told me that he most misses his friends, “I still miss my college friends so much, we live in the same dorm in college time, and spend 4 years together, and after graduation, they all went to different places. I have several good friends that they came to the United States but they went to different states so seldom see each other.”

 “When I went to school in Taiwan, my English was pretty good, so I already have a pretty good foundation in English. I learned it pretty quickly after I came to the U.S., so first year at Lamar University, my English improved tenfold, 10 times basically, so it is lucky that I don’t have really a language barrier to myself, but I still learning a lot of native slang to make myself more native when I’m talking, no matter to colleagues, or neighbors. So I don’t really have difficulties with language when I got here as a newcomer, and it’s pretty easy for me for the work I’m doing and the life I’m living.”

Unfortunately, my dad was unable to complete his Ph.D. His original plan was to obtain a Ph.D. and then return to National Taiwan University to pursue a teaching career., but later on, he met his wife. His wife decided to stay and this decision changed the fate of his life. Despite not completing his Ph.D., he was able to secure a great job, and his life in the U.S. became more stable and settled.

I continued my interview and asked why he move to California from Texas. From his answer, I noticed that he live in Texas for about 10 years, then he moved to California in 2001. When I asked for reasons, he said “Because California is more diversified” I didn’t know what that mean or how it related at that time, but the following conversation made me very empathetic and think of the same problems that countless immigrant people would have. “In 2001, my son was about to be born and we think it is better to move to California because it is more diversified. I had a bad experience being discriminated against in Texas many times, and I don’t want my son to experience the same.

One very memorable experience for me was in an air show in Houston when my friends and I were chatting in Chinese while waiting for the air show to start in an airport. We were speaking softly as waiting and people who had bought tickets were gradually entering. Suddenly, a man walked by us and made a rude remark, saying, ‘If you don’t speak English, then go back to your country.’ I didn’t react to this one because I didn’t want it to ruin my day.

Unfortunately, a similar incident occurred in California when I was walking my dog, and a random person yelled at me to ‘go back to my country’. Despite this, California has more immigrants compared to other states and is more diverse overall, which is why I chose to move here. Another reason is very personal, I love living in California because of the weather! I personally think It has better weather than Texas.” Last but not least, my dad gave out one piece of advice I want to share with new immigrants: “Speak up bravely when facing injustice. Don’t be shy. Don’t be scared. Don’t be embarrassed. No one will protect your rights for you. By surrendering, you only empower those who mistreat you, causing them to view immigrants as easy targets. Therefore, it is up to you to protect yourself and your family.”

The interview was conducted by Siqi Zhang, a high school student in Santa Clara County, CA.


Comments are closed.