This blog post is included as part of the “Her Story” series, which celebrates the stories of pivotal women in our students' lives that inspire, motivate and embolden them. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the ideas, views or opinions of LAAF.org.
When my grandmother told me the story of her life, I was floored by the depth of her resilience. A few months after her birth, she had been sold to a family with food and a stillborn daughter. After her adopted family died when she was seven, she wandered over a hundred miles on her own in search of her birth family. Upon the miracle of finding them, she had to endure her birthmother’s brutal death. Years later, the Rape of Nanjing stole the lives of hundreds of thousands of her countrymen.
My grandmother had the strength to carry on, and her legacy leadership is now a fundamental part of my family’s lifeblood. Her path out of poverty was education, which led her to university and a career in engineering. In turn, she instilled the immeasurable value of education and grit into her progeny. Her leadership empowered my family by shining light on the importance of resilience, work ethic, and sacrifice.
Her legacy lived on in my parents. Sacrifice, a fundamental ancient Chinese virtue, prevailed. My mother and father sacrificed their world to secure a shot at my happiness, leaving everything they knew in China to pursue their American Dream. Rent aside, they lived on thirty dollars a week during their first few years in the United States. While my father struggled with the English needed to finish graduate school, my mother waited at a hectic sushi restaurant. At thirty, they both started growing gray hairs, but somehow, they still smiled every day – as does my grandmother, despite the many aches and pains that test her mettle.
I envision carrying my grandmother’s legacy forward by considering it my responsibility to live strongly, proudly, and joyfully, because her lifelong grit has shown me what strength is. Her untiring embodiment of our cultural virtues has made me swell with pride. Her constant, unassuming joy has taught me that happiness is always a choice. In all my personal, professional, and philanthropic endeavors, I am resolute, undaunted, and optimistic, ready for whatever lies ahead.
History is circular. I am who I am because of the sacrifices and resilience of my ancestors. In time, my sacrifices will honor my roots, paving the way for my children.