Born in Kyrgyzstan, Gary moved to China at a very young age and was brought up in a small town named Xin Jiang. The town, being notorious for its ongoing conflict between the citizens and the government, did not hold any charm for him. Fed up with the lawlessness, he migrated to the USA in 1990 all by himself. The freedom in the United States attracted him. Therefore, he decided to leave the beautiful country he knew as home, and to abandon the dancing and singing around an evening bonfire. He had to leave it all behind to come to a strange land in search of a better future.
Just like every other immigrant, finding a job was a very important task for him. Working at double shift for washing dishes at a restaurant was indeed an arduous task but what kept him alive was his spirit. He had an urge to assimilate as much in this community as possible. Even knowing four different languages did not help him overcome his lack of knowledge of English. It was hard for him to communicate or even to go to bank. But he did not lose hope. Instead he started to attend adult school and would often go to church where old people would help him improve his English.
Due to the ongoing conflict and lawlessness in his own hometown, Gary considers USA to be a very safe place. According to him the laws are followed and more things can be bought at a cheaper rate. He worked really hard to earn money because according to him “money equals happiness.” He left his country to earn more money and to get the life style he always desired.
Thinking of going back is a tough decision in his life. Going back to that same old conflicted territory is impossible. Even though he wants to go, it would be impossible for him to gain a visa. According to Gary, the people are so filled with hatred towards the US that they won’t let a USA citizen obtain a visa. Now, Gary’s life is in the United States and it would be useless to think about the things you cant get, he says. He is 73 years old now and spends his free time playing piano and enjoying his life. Through his personality, one can guess that his nature is never to give up and stay happy, even in the hardest of times.
Fatima (pictured here in pink) is a current student at Emma Lazarus High School. In the future, she hopes to become an international journalist.