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Chen-Yu Wu

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His parents were born in Taiwan and moved to Thailand as adults. His brother was also born in Taiwan, moved to Thailand, and studied in the United States. Chen-Yu was born in Taiwan and moved to Thailand in November 1988. He lived and attended school in Bangkok, including an international high school where he learned English. He arrived in Minnesota to begin his studies at Macalester College in August 2005. He met his wife, Marie Wu, at Macalester. Chen-Yu began his graduate studies in sociology at the University of Minnesota in 2010.

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0:03:24

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

Transcription

Chen-Yu Wu
Narrator

Elizabeth Venditto
Immigration Stories
Immigration History Research Center
Interviewer

December 6, 2013
At the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus
Minneapolis MN

My name is Chen-Yu Wu, I’m a Sociology grad student at the University of Minnesota and I’m a first generation Immigrant. Although I was born in Taiwan in the late 1980’s, I spent most of my childhood in Thailand itself. Expatriate families basically had two choices when it came to educating their kids. They could either send their kids to Thai public schools or they could send their kids to an international school and perhaps unsurprisingly, expat families chose the latter option; international schools. I enrolled in a K-12 English speaking school, which accounts for my linguistic ability and comfort with the language. So when it came time to choosing college, you know, due to my educational training, you know, my options were pretty much, you know, go to an Anglophone country and the popular destinations for my peers, other people in my, in similar situations, was, you know, here in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore. I chose the United States for a couple of reasons. First, my brother had enrolled in Grinnell College. He’s older than me, and so he came to the United States 3 years before I did and consequently, I already had a template for the process itself: applying to college, getting a visa, applying for the visa itself, moving to a new country. And so, I applied to and was accepted at Macalester College in Saint Paul in 2005, which was when I first set foot here in the United States. So, like most international students, I came to the United States without any intention of immigrating. I figured that I was here in pursuit of an education and whether or not I stayed in the United States afterwards would be more a function of whether I was able to find a job here and you know, find an employer who was, you know, willing and able to sponsor me for an employment visa. And you know, during my first year, 4 years seemed to be a long time away so that was never something I gave that much thought to. However, one thing I quickly noticed after being here in the United states, spending a couple years here, was how much more comfortable I felt here compared to the other two places that I’ve lived in my life, that being Taiwan and Thailand. And, what I mean by that is that it was an extremely liberating experience to walk down the street here in the United States, be able to read street signs and therefore know exactly where you are, to be able to read billboards, storefront signs, ads, you know, and understand exactly what they say. That was not the case when I was in Taiwan or Thailand, as I never received formal linguistic instruction on either Thai or Chinese itself. And so, even though this seems to be a fairly minor point, you know, as I speak both Chinese and Thai proficiently enough to hold a conversation, you know, ask people questions and you know, I would never go hungry or lost in either one of those countries. Here, being here in the United States gave me a sense of independence unlike any sense of independence I’ve ever felt before.