The Life of An Immigrant Through a Child's Eyes
by Courtney Richards
Bangde “Annie” Fu (b. 1998) was just seven years old when her mother brought her to their new home in the United States in 2005. They had been living a comfortable life with family and friends in Guangxi, China. Her mother, however, longed for a better life, and Annie was finding school increasingly difficult, so they moved to Philadelphia, where her father had lived for many years. It took Annie some time to get used to the foods and living arrangements in this country, but she grew accustomed to them over time.
“There was a lot of food that was prepared for me which I like. I'm a food person, have I mentioned? So I went there and I was like ‘Oooh.’ The food was different because they got American food. They wanted me to try it ... good things like pizza, fries, everything. Those are great now, but back then I looked at it and I was like, ‘What is that?’” – Annie Fu, 2019
Annie knew little English when she arrived, and was scared about starting first grade. The first day, however, went better than she expected.
“At my school—they taped your teacher, your class, your name on there [name tag] and you literally go, you find it, and there is people out there that you can ask. I didn't know how to ask, but I'm like ‘Oh my gosh, paper at least!’... I found my name, and I was like ‘Okay, what does this mean?’ And my mom didn't really know English at the time either, but somehow it was fine and it wasn't that hard.” – Annie Fu, 2019
After Annie and her family moved to North Philadelphia, she missed her life back in South Philadelphia with all the excitement and the neighbors she had come to know. She did well enough in school, however, to win admission to Central High School.
“So the high school I went to was kind of like a college prep school. It prepares you to go to college. So, in the beginning, elementary school, first grade to third grade I just struggled with the language. I got better after the first two years, but the third year I was really trying to understand, and get it, and how to utilize language.”
– Annie Fu, 2019
Annie wanted to stay in Philadephia for college, and after visiting a number of schools, she enrolled at Temple University in 2016. When interviewed in March 2019, she also volunteered at the Independence Branch Free Library in Philadelphia and at Jefferson Health's Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, where she could work on her major, Health Information Management.
“Temple is—the people are really friendly. I didn't imagine that to be. There’s good diversity. You can build longterm friendships there. There’s a lot of clubs you can join. The professors are really nice. It kind of had the same atmosphere as my high school, but a little laid back because you can choose your own schedule and you can, you know, manage it a little better.” – Annie Fu, 2019.
When asked if she would like to return to China, Annie said that the United States has so many opportunities for her that she wouldn’t have back home.
“To me, the American Dream is something that opens up more opportunities, and there’s more equality here. That’s what it means to me. People are more open. People are more willing to give people chances.” – Annie Fu, 2019