This narrative will focus upon the immigration of a Chinese-American family, the Lees. Their children are first generation American citizens who lived and grew up in the United States but their story begins in a small district in Nanjing. The family, while successful in their pursuits, found themselves at odds with the Chinese government regarding the father’s business. As such, they found themselves without many consistent opportunities to thoroughly grow within the country. The father, Honghui, inherited his father’s clothing and apparel store and had attempted to expand upon it across the Chinese continent but strict taxation and exporting laws made it difficult to keep the business afloat, especially as technology grew and developed a more globalized market in which larger manufacturers in China were able to utilize exports to expand their businesses in ways that smaller entities were unable to do.
Because of this, he chose to move to America with his then girlfriend. Their families were against their marriage for years but Honghui loved her and eventually went against both of their families’ interests to start a life together in America. This was made more complex by Honghui’s discovery that his wife was pregnant at the time, and as such, he wanted to leave to America to ensure the most benefit for his wife and his soon-to-be family. This narrative will follow the beginning of this journey and Honghui’s decision to make it to the United States, as well as the actual journey itself. Given that they had little in terms of actual money, the two had to leave with only a few belongings and come to America to live in northern Virginia. The story will also focus on Honghui’s wife Changying and her difficulties integrating into American culture, as well as attempting to receive health care for her then newborn son. Also, many of the cultural stigmas that surrounded women in the United States at that time will be brought forth, and compared to Chinese stigmas, by analyzing Changying and her life during these years. The genre of this story will be more of a documentary-drama style with some romantic influences as it details the formative years of the American experience that they come to have.
Furthermore, many of the issues that they faced upon immigrating will be discussed, such as Honghui and his wife’s struggle to understand English and the overall nature of American culture. As Honghui discusses when talked with in small interviews I conducted with him, finding his way in this new area of the world as a minority and an immigrant was difficult, and it was compounded upon when people mistook his lack of understanding of the language and culture as evidence of some sort of inferiority to the American citizens that lived there. He also discusses how daunting it was to become a naturalized citizen and the pressures that he faced attempting to start this life and integrate his children successfully. The last character that will be brought into the discussion is that of Justin, their first son who is now twenty-two years old. Through interviewing him, the hope is to see what life was like for his parents and the effects of American culture that came to change how he interacted and understood his native culture.
As they grew, another thing that began to take shape was their adaptation of the American culture and way of life as opposed to their understanding of the Chinese culture. This is something that affects Honghui to this day and he tries to keep them refreshed and understanding of their roots, but the older they get, the harder it becomes to maintain a lot of those traditional elements of the life that he lived in China. As such, I feel that this story will be a great narrative to highlight many of the stresses and individual aspects of immigration stories. Much of what these people must endure to simply gain a new life in this country is difficult and filled with many anxieties in general. Choosing to focus on one individual’s attempts to acclimate to this newfound world will also show how daunting it can be for others who share stories that are very similar to that of Honghui’s and immigrants such as Honghui. The Chinese culture is a proud and hard-working one and Honghui embodies that, as well as the desire to achieve more outside of the constraints that were placed on his originally.