“My father told me this story when I interviewed him for a paper I wrote for an Asian history course. It was a hard conversation because our family doesn’t do emotions. We don’t really hug or talk about things. He said his own father had left the family during World War II, and he thought that he’d been abandoned. But as an adult living in Hong Kong, he found out that his father had never made it out of the country; he had probably been killed by Japanese soldiers. My mom grew up in the city of Hong Kong during the war. She had to quit school when she was in third grade because she had to help raise her four younger brothers and sisters.
“I think about my dad and all he went through just to survive, and it’s hard to talk about without crying. How do you find your way without GPS? How do you go anywhere without a cell phone? How do you leave your home and not know where you’re going? I can’t even go to Nashville without GPS. But my father took that first big chance and then continued to take chances to make life better for the family. It was just what you did; you didn’t even think about it. You just went. You left everything behind, which is really hard; I can’t imagine it. Because of him and his experiences, I feel for the refugees who are fleeing their home countries now with no food to eat, no place to live, and no idea where they’re going. War changes everything; it doesn’t matter when it is.”