我记得是在中国的时候，有一次刚刚恢复文革以后那个考试的时候呢,我第一次是在那个山区小学里面，在校长之间教毕业班的。我跟另外一个教数学的老师，跟我也是朋友一起教一个人，两个人合起来教一个毕业班，然后是做讲座，是怎样把山区的这个小孩子能够考上的重点中学重点校区。我还讲了自己的心得，怎么跟那个老师怎么配合把学生教好。但是当时的时候我是那个还是一般的小学的校长，然后自从那一次以后呢, 我说我那个名字，这时候在全县范围内基本上都是出名了。第二年，第三年几乎那个就被教育局提为这个中心小学的副校长, 负责管理业务教学的。
另外一点就是-我三十八岁来到美国以后，我是要做打砸到餐馆里面去打工。我们首先开始就是杂工，就是这个一些清洁卫生间的，还有那个切菜, 炒饭什么东西，就是餐馆里面所有最低等的,最起码的工大家都要做。但是我刚刚进去的时候，我第一天来到这个餐馆，记得第一次那个老板叫你这个,把那个这一包洋葱啊, 把那个皮把它剥掉。
那一天晚上回来以后，在被子上在流眼泪哎呀，我在暗暗地流眼泪呀。刚才哎呀，我这么辛苦，知道这么辛苦，不想来,为什么又来呀? 要是在家里是很舒服啊是吧? 现在家里很让我辛苦。那看到这个老板-他说每个月跟那个没有休息的,给我1000个人美元，我是看着美元，我想到一百块，相当于当时是八百多人民币。当时我在学校里面的当校长,当副校长的工资，这个还才是¥49.50毛,加到米贴才五十四块。我五十四块五好像还还算怎么样。唔…现在看着这个錢的份上,哎呀哎呀我说要做要做一定要做。那老板给我这么高的工资。当时一千的工资很高了，没有休息的，但是我一定要做，要尽我最大的努力去做。
Yu An’s Transition: From Vice-Principal in Fuzhou to Life in the U.S.
My name is Yu An.L . I’m from Chang Le in Fuzhou. I was 38 years old when I arrived in the United States. But back in China, I was the Vice-Principal of an elementary school. Back then, I concurrently held the position of Vice-Principal while also teaching the graduating class every year. When every school would take their middle school entrance exams, my graduating class would always score pretty well.
I remember back in China, right after school exams resumed after the Cultural Revolution, me and another math teacher (who was one of my good friends) taught the graduating class together. We held a talk on how we could work together to help the students in our county score into the central middle school. Ever since then, my name became well known amongst students and teachers in the county. By my second and third year, I became the Vice-Principal of our region’s central primary school and was responsible for the other teachers.
Another point is that I came to the United States at 38. I had to work at a restaurant. We started out as handymen: we cleaned the restaurant, we cleaned the bathrooms. Then we became the ones who cut the vegetables, fried the rice – the lowest workers at the restaurant. I remember the first day, my boss gave me a bag of onions and told me to peel off the skins. While I was cutting one layer after another, I accidentally cut off a piece of my finger. You know back at the school, I was working with words and characters. All of a sudden here, I was working with…these things. Tears started falling from my eyes. My boss came over and taped up the cut and told me to continue. “Someone else is out sick with gastritis. You can’t not work. You have to finish making the rice!”
That night I went home and cried into my blankets. Why did I come here? God, if I knew it was this hard – I wouldn’t have come. I would have been so comfortable back at home, wouldn’t I? Now, home is so difficult. I looked at the money my boss gave me: 1,000 USD a month with no off days. I thought: $100 USD was equivalent to 800 RMB (at the time). In China, my salary as Vice-Principal was only 49.50 RMB with a small food stipend for lunch making it 54 RMB. This 54 RMB was paltry in comparison to a grand. Looking at this money, I thought: god I have to keep working. I absolutely have to work.
Another point is that in 2003, I went to take my citizenship exam. Before I got my citizenship, I had a green card. Although I was educated, it was in China. And although I’m fully literate, I was in Chinese not English. All I knew were the 26 letters of the English alphabet. I was very diligent with reciting, and a few young ladies at the church would say, “Oh this Uncle Li is very hard-working! He originally did not know any English words. But now, beginning with 26 letters, he slowly learned a word, then short sentences.” Then I learned restaurant related terms, then everyday terms. I basically studied every day. I worked at the restaurant during the day and self-studied at night. If I didn’t know a word, I would ask a young person. After some time, I hired someone who taught me how to take the citizenship exam. We went over all 100 questions, like who was the first president, what is the capital of the state, etc, and memorized all of them. Then I started testing myself. When I was confident enough, I contacted the citizenship tutor and arranged an exam time, it was maybe May. A group of people took me to Long Island where my exam was. I took it once and passed – I got my U.S. citizenship.