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The Suffolk Journal

The Story in Between: Case 003

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The following essay is from Juan Lu Chen, a student at Suffolk University in Boston. Juan was raised in Spain, although his parents are from China. He has lived in both countries and speaks their languages. Juan is currently in Boston to get his degree in Business Management as well as increase his skills in English. 

The Lost Years
by Juan Lu Chen

Many years have passed since the day I lost my wayI can’t believe how I was able to find my way out. I guess it was my family’s support which helped me to see what was better for me.

My life as a student changed when I met Mykhail in my second year of high school. He was a Ukrainian guy who loves to smoke, hang out and play video games. As we got to know each other, we started to skip class and leave school during break times and go out with other people. He always said to me, “Lets escape from this annoying place” and my answer always was the same: “Yes, sure”. Why couldn’t I say no? I remember that those days were the funniest of my life, meeting new people, and going to school just for fun. However, I was destroying myself.  I had no objectives, no goals, nothing.

As time flew by, my grades for the first trimester were bad. My neighbor Ivan, who loves to play video games at my home, knew that if I showed my parents those grades he would not be able to play my video games anymore. In order to rectify this situation, he proposed to me, ‘”Hey, dude. I have an idea. We can go to my home and print false grades with Microsoft Word.” I replied: “That is a great idea!”  Since my parents are both from China they will not notice it.

In fact, they didn’t. Three years passed without them knowing my grades. If only they had known, things would have been different. I thought that I would be able to improve my grades for the next trimester; but, as I got to know more people, I started to hang out with them more and more. Those years were spent going to the park, to computer centers or playing basketball in the court. I remember that I used to check the mail every morning in order to get the school cards so my parents couldn’t know that I was missing classes.

My life was a lie. Every time I was at home, I tried to avoid talking about my school life. I hoped that someday I would fix everything somehow, and pass all the subjects that I have. However, the truth was that I needed help. My family did not worry about me since they believed I was a good student. The life I was leading hurt me. Everything was a lie.

I could not look into my parents’ eyes anymore. Some days I felt so guilty that I wanted to cry. I was wondering what was happening to me and why I was doing this. I continued this life far too long and lost so many years without doing anything. I was one of those kids without a future, one of those who would end up nowhere. By the time my old classmates were in their senior year, I was still a sophomore. I started to think that what was better for me would be to just disappear.

One day, my parents planned to move. My father went to my school to get the papers he needed to transfer me to another school. When he saw my grades, he was so shocked. He could not believe that student was me.  He called me and said “I just went to your school. Are you making fun of me? What have you been doing these years? You cannot be my son.” I could not even speak. He was so upset which made me feel like I was in hell. When he went back home, he couldn’t even look at me.

During those days, my father couldn’t sit at the same table as me. My mother asked me, “Why have you done all this?” A few thoughts came to mind. Was it to keep my video games, to keep my family happy, or just to be cool at school? I do not know, really. My father did not know what to do so he sent me to China with my sister so that I could stay with my grandparents for the summer.

My grandparents tried to understand me. They talked to me every day about how important school, my future, life, money and other things are. These ideas are those that my parents told me years ago. At the time, I thought they were irrelevant; but, in that moment I understood what it meant.

Hopes for a better future have come back to me. By the time I arrived back in Spain, my father and I started to look for a new school in a new place; somewhere that I could start fresh. The school we found was “Hispano Irlandes,” a religious school. They allowed me to stay there to study, which is what I did.

Over the years, I started to study a lot in order to pass my subjects. My spirit was back again, I could tell my parents every problem I had and show them my progress. In addition, staying there made me become a better person and I was happy again. My teachers really did help me a lot. They showed me the way to a new beginning. At school, all of the courses had the same break time, so during that time, I helped little kids improve their soccer skills.

My new friends were the children. Every time they saw me, they asked, “Will you play soccer with us?” I was glad to play with them. Their smiles made me feel good. Their laughs were a song in my heart. Their kindness helped me to improve mine. I really miss those days! My old friends changed too. They told me to hang out with them sometime. It seemed like they all got jobs. Even though they do not have the perfect jobs, they are happy. Some of them said to me, “Our lives may have been better if we did not drop school.” However, I could really feel the change in them. They seem tired; some of them even have kids!

Right now, I am in the United States to study. I hope to get my business management degree in two years. It is the first time I have been in a country where I have to speak English.  Even though I studied English in high school and college, I did not take many classes. I guess watching television and reading comics in English really helped me improve. If not for this I would not able to study here. My short term goal is to get a job as soon as possible related to my field of interest. I hope coming to the United States will increase those chances.

I am not that kid anymore.  I would like to travel back in time in order to make myself realize that what I was doing was not right. But, I know I can’t do that. Now, I just have to keep going down the right path. I know that we are in a globalized world, where everyone must struggle for a better life.

So, United States, will you show me the way?

About this post: “The Story In Between” is a blog dedicated to interviewing immigrants and sharing their stories. This blog stems from the “Our Journey Project”, a website where the personal accounts of immigrants from various places in the U.S. are published. For more information, visit www.ourjourneyproject.org
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The Story in Between: Case 003