“I’m from Shanghai. In July of  I moved here with my daughter, with a visa. My mom’s still in Shanghai. I have a sister in Shanghai, and I have a son in Shanghai; he has a family. My mom is getting older; I miss her very much. Every year, I choose a time to go back, to see my mom and do something, see my close friends. I’ve been here [in the U.S.] almost ten years.
My friend helped me find a stable job at the University. She took me to see the boss, and they gave me an application. When I went there, they would say, ‘she’s very nice.’ They had respect for me, and I had respect for them. Until this year, I worked there. Eight years.
[I met my husband when] he came to get food from me [at my job as a cashier]. He came more times, and I thought, maybe he is interested in me! When he invited me to go to a restaurant, I said, ‘No—I don’t know you! I can’t go with you, I’m sorry.’ He’s very shy, but after five days he came by again. He didn’t buy food, he didn’t do anything; when I finished my work, he saw me, and said ‘Lina, I just want to talk with you.’ And we talked. And he was very nice. He came to Arkansas because he got a job as a professor at the University. My husband has a big heart. He tells me: ‘life is short—enjoy it.’
When I quit my job, I said, ‘I want to learn a musical instrument.’ So I learned the guqin [a traditional Chinese instrument]. I participate in a local festival, the Chinese New Year celebration. They dance. When I was young, I learned lots of dance; [people at the festival] know me, because I teach dance.
After I finished my job, I thought, ‘My English is not really good.’ I wanted [to know] more, because more [English] helps you feel that you can talk easily to people, comfortably. If you don’t know English, you feel very tight [nervous] inside. I came to [OLC] because it’s very beautiful, and very warm, [good] for families. The teachers, oh my gosh, very nice! So patient. I like them. It makes me feel good; some people don’t make money here, they teach for free! And we [the students] are not paying money. I like it here. It’s just like a family.
I need to understand English, so that my life here can be easier. Every time I watch the TV, the news is not easy to understand. My husband’s an American. I don’t care [about differences between the U.S. and China] because one day they will understand one another. I hope, slowly. In different countries, life is different, so sometimes countries don’t understand each other. I hope that they can help each other, to make a better life for the people [that live in them].
My daughter here, I hope she can get her citizenship. Citizenship in the U.S. is stable. If she can get a job here in the U.S., I hope that she can do something to help people.”