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'It's OK, we don't mind'
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Immigrant. - photo by Joe Walker
The first thing you need to know about Byron and Anita is this: Those arent their real names.

Those are the names they have used since they immigrated to America from Taiwan several years ago. Friends and family members who already lived here suggested that Americans would struggle with their Chinese names Te Tsai and Hsiu Lan and so it would be easier for everyone if they adopted names more comfortable for English speakers to read and say.

Chinese sounds different from English sounds, Anita told me when we first met. Its OK. We dont mind.

Thats sort of been the attitude with which Byron and Anita have approached everything about their move to America.

Leave good jobs in Taiwan and try to find jobs in a tough American job market?

Its OK. We dont mind.

Struggle to learn a new, sometimes frighteningly inconsistent language (I before E except after C or when sounded as A as in neighbor or weigh or if you want to make an I sound, as in feisty or geiger counter, which is really weird because, seriously, wouldnt you think I would come first if you want to make the I sound? And speaking of weird, what about weird? Whats the rule on weird?) while you are adapting to a new, sometimes frighteningly inconsistent culture?

Its OK. We dont mind.

And what about taxes? Those tax forms are almost incomprehensible to Americans who have been speaking English their entire lives. Can you imagine trying to figure them out if youre still thinking in Chinese?

Its OK. We dont mind.

It isnt that Byron and Anita are gluttons for punishment. But they had a pretty good life in Taiwan. Thats the second thing you need to know about them. They had meaningful employment and a comfortable home. Things looked good for them for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the same thing could not be said for their two children: Amanda (Hui Tzu) and Chris (Wei Cheng). They were bright, happy children, both of them. They were excellent students and looked like they had a great future in front of them.

But they didnt. At least, not in Taiwan.

The future in Taiwan is not clear, Anita said. We were afraid for them. Who knows what happens there? So we decided to come here where there would be opportunity for them.

For Byron and Anita, it was that simple. As parents, they couldnt make decisions based solely on what was best for themselves. They were parents, and they had to think about what was best for their children. And when they thought about what was best for Amanda and Chris well, it was a no-brainer.

Today, a few years after their migration, things are different for Byron and Anita. They are both trying really hard to get the hang of English (especially expressions like get the hang of), but they are still uncomfortable with the language. They both have jobs, but not as good as the jobs they had in Taiwan. They live in a comfortable home in a peaceful neighborhood (if you dont count the occasional rabble-rousing columnist), but things are tight financially. And they have two children who are moving happily, enthusiastically, aggressively and successfully into a bright and promising future here in America.

As far as Byron and Anita are concerned, thats the only thing that matters.

We came here for our children, Anita told me. If they are happy, we are happy.

And thats the third thing you need to know about them. As American religious leader James E. Faust said, The depth of the love of parents for their children cannot be measured. It is like no other relationship. It exceeds concern for life itself. The love of a parent for a child is continuous and transcends heartbreak and disappointment.

Because, as Anita said, Its OK. We dont mind.
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