Ever reminisce about the events that made you who you are today? An accomplished creative consultant, Ping Lin, reflects on her experiences as an immigrant going back to school, this time in the United States.
First day of school. Fresh off the boat. Literally. My sister and I had just arrived in the United States a few days ago. Back home in Taiwan, my sister was always one of the top five students in her academic classes, but as for me-well, I was a different story. Let’s just say I excelled in other things, like art, music, and P.E.
We also had English classes in Taiwan, but it was limited to simple and short conversational English. As a result, hearing and speaking English for the first time in America was very difficult, not to mention the culture shock I experienced when I arrived. Everything seemed so different and intimidating. Plus, I knew no one in school. The only person I had was my sister and she was a year older, so I had no classes with her. I had no idea how she was doing, but I was bursting to tell everyone about my experience.
During lunch break, we went to meet our family. My parents, aunts and uncles were eager to hear how my sister and I were adapting to American school, but my sister started crying at first sight. When they gently asked what was wrong, she replied, “I don’t understand a word in the class. What will I do with SATs?” She was so upset and worried that my mother and aunts soon began to wipe away their own tears. Seeing me dry-eyed, they turned to me and asked, “What about you, how was first day of school?”
With a smile I replied, “I don’t understand a word in the class. I’ve never been happier in my life!”
Although Ping initially struggled to learn English when she first came to Los Angeles at 15, she soon adjusted to American society, knowing that in order to conquer the language barrier, she would have to work harder in school than she had ever done before. Her diligence paid off and she successfully received a high school diploma after two short years. The following semester, she flew to Boston University to study graphic design. After graduation, she freelanced as a web media designer before attending graduate school to study in Interactive Telecommunications at NYU. Though her beginning in America was rough, she rose to the challenge and survived in today’s cutthroat competitive environment, obtaining a job at Ogilvy & Mather as an art director for more than five years. Not only has she gained 10 years of experience in that interactive field, but she also enjoys what she does as a web designer and as an avid street photographer. Currently, Ping works as a freelancer/consultant providing various creative services. Her website is temporarily undergoing revision, but her work can be seen on flickr.com/photos/pinglin.
As told to Stephanie Lee
Last modified: January 30, 2009