A Friendly Tone
Li (Liz) Jin
Immigrated from Changchun, China
"Despite all of our cultural and religious differences,
our human nature remains the same."
The small, genuine smile returned to my mother’s face as my questions revived the moment when she stepped off the plane from China to America in January of 2000. “To be honest, I wasn’t nervous when I first arrived in Texas. I felt excitement when my feet touched the ground of America for the first time. As a child, I had never heard stories about what’s outside of China, since China was extremely closed off from the rest of the world 20 years ago.” Her eyes, framed with glasses, illuminated as she continued her story.
“When I first arrived at my university, I was told to go the registration office where a lady was calling out students by their first name from a roll sheet. The office was welcoming and cozy, the furniture and carpeting made it felt more like an undesirable home to me at that time.” She pushed her short, black hair behind her ears as she talked about how the homey feeling was something that was hard to achieve when she was in China.
My mother heard the lady call out the letters L-I. “It wasn’t until she repeated herself several times before I realized she was calling my name, Li.” She explains that she finally realized she was in a foreign country. “I’m sorry, how do you pronounce your name?” my mother repeats what the lady asked her. “I explained to her, and she smiled at me and repeated my name correctly. Her friendly tone made me feel more comfortable, and the language and cultural barrier fell down.”
My mother feels thankful that the lady didn’t comprehend how to pronounce her name because she realized something important after that experience. “Despite all of our cultural and religious differences, our human nature remains the same. We are all bound together by the kindness of our words even though the language it’s told in might be different. In the end, everyone in this world has similar feelings, characteristics, and thoughts, it’s only our birth places and where we are from that’s different.”