Sometimes it is hard to introduce yourself because you know yourself too well. April 12, 1993, is a special day in my life; my mom gave birth to me on this day. I was born in downtown Chicago. My mother named me Jerry as my English name and Tan Wen Qiang in Chinese. She named me Jerry because she loved the cartoon show Tom and Jerry and loved the fact how Jerry could always outsmart Tom. She wanted me to be as smart as the mouse when I grew up. My Chinese name means "to be strong and healthy." I grew up in downtown Chicago with my younger sister, Tracy Tan. English is my third language; my first was Cantonese and second was Mandarin.
Around eight years old, I moved back to Beijing the capital China for ten years because of my dad's job. From the moment I stepped foot on China's soil , I knew that I had to kiss my old life goodbye. Everything in China was different, from the food to their way of living. In order to be able to live with Chinese people, I had to move forward and become accustomed to their way of life. There were many challenges I faced while living in China. The biggest challenge of all was the language barrier between me and the Chinese people. At first I had no way of communicating with them since we spoke different languages, I spoke Cantonese while they speak mandarin; we could not understand each other. I didn't pick up Mandarin until months later when I slowly learned it in a summer class out of school. Before I learned Mandarin I was also taken advantage of, especially when shopping at the flea market. I was often overcharged for a pair of shoes or a piece of clothing even after bargaining. However, despite all odd things I have discovered while living in China, it was there that I experienced some of the moments I cherish the most. I was enrolled in an international school where there was a diversity of students and teachers. My classmates all came from different countries each with different cultural backgrounds but that didn't stop us from working together on projects. In terms of the language barrier, I was given the opportunity to study Mandarin that has allowed me to create a bond with the people in China.
I came back to America in 2008 after my parents heard that my uncle was diagnosed with stage four cancer. My parents could not just leave everything in China behind so suddenly because they needed some extra time to sell everything and move back, so my sister and I boarded the airplane back to America by ourselves. We arrived in America at around one am. I looked around at all the foreign faces and I did not know where to go or what to do. I could barely remember how my relatives looked since I had not seen them for about 8 years, when I was little they were so close to me I had a hard time forgetting them. Every year I'd ask if I can go back to visit but every year I was turned down but I was young soon as I made more friends I slowly forgot about it. But going back seeing them after such a long time was a nerve wracking feeling, I did not have their cell phone numbers or addresses to begin with, so if they had not come to pick me up at the airport I would have been in trouble. However, as we slowly got to the entrance , I saw my relatives. They had a big sign with our names on it and at the time there were not that many people, so it did not take us long to spot them. They brought us home afterwards and showed us our rooms and helped us register for the high school nearby. During my high school years, I never truly felt that I fit. Whenever I told people where I was from, their expressions were full of shock and curiosity. Without a doubt I would become the topic of the conversation. They would look at me as if I was a different species.
Everything changed after I met my first best friend in America; his name was Eyob Zewdie, and he came from Ethiopia. I sat by him in biology class since it was the only seat still available, our friendship started with a greeting. Then we started talking and he was really nice to me. He showed me around school, hung out with me after school, and helped me improve my English. He backed me up in school when I was being bullied. He showed me the importance of friendship. To be honest, I have had many unforgettable memories with Eyob during the four years in high school. We're almost like brothers; to me our friendship is almost as amazing like a rainbow that would appear after a lightning storm. It comes when you least expect it, and turns into something marvelous that would be worth remembering for a lifetime. It was a friendship I would do anything for to keep; the two of us have different groups of friends, different interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes, but yet we share what we have. We listened to stories of each other's life, were there for each other, made each other smile when we were sad, laughed and cried together. We have much abundance of fun memories together. I wouldn't know what I'd do without him.
During our last summer before college, the week before my mom went to Florida, she dropped me off at Eyob's house around 10am and said "I'll pick you up at about 8am tomorrow morning, then we'll go to royal buffet with your cousins for breakfast and then church OK?" mom states as she leaves, but before I could say anything. Leaving me speechless; I turned around and saw Eyob was already there opening the door for me, I yelled "Happy Birthday," and throw the birthday present I had prepared beforehand towards his directions, he looked excited when he saw me but after 3 seconds of Oooing and Aaaing; my presents landed into the pile with the other causing them to crumble, he said "Everyone's either in the basement or the back garden right now but we'll leave as soon as everyone's here." as he points towards the stairs and the back yard "and some has decided to take the party to the roof" as he points up. "My mum's going to kill them if they mess up the roof."
We went to the back yard, which was already filled with plenty of people here and there chatting, drinking and fooling around stupidly. I looked up at the roof filled with tons water balloons and announced "I'm going to the roof". "I'd rather be on their side then be here and run to the stairs to go up. "OH dear," Eyob and Yoni said as the two of them are following behind me to the roof. The people in the garden were clearly oblivious to what's about to happen. Happily, they're drinking and laughing; until the war broke out.
Me, Yoni and Eyob sit down scattered around on the roof, looking at the mass of people bombarding the garden lot. "This is nice," I say and laugh at the excited screams that are heard from below. "Are you guys going to be helping us out?" one of the throwers asks. "I think you've got this covered," I say. "We need to go soon anyway," He just laughs and took two more water balloons from the pile.
After about another 30 minutes, when everyone arrived here, we went to watch Transformer 3: The Dark side of the moon, the day it came out at the Marcus Theater in Elgin. we were expecting highly for the movie the movie dying to see it since last year, we brought popcorns and drinks and got a good seat; all prepared for the movie. The movie kept me on the edge of my seat with its stunning visual and amazing scenes, I liked the part where the nerdy gay Asian guy made me laugh when he approached Sam Witwicky in the toilet; and caused Sam Witwicky mistaken by his boss Bruce Brazos that he was gay, I jumped a couple times because of the sudden Bam, despite that the continuous action, destruction and battles I got bored after a while because the war was starting to drag on forever. After that movie we walked back to Eyob's house for a sleep over "pizza/birthday" party, I had to continuous run once a while because Eyob was walking way too fast for me to catch up at my current speed, I was excited about his party because I can't wait to eat all those yummy food.
During the sleep over his mom made us some really delicious Ethiopian food, I couldn't help it, but eat like a pig until I could not eat anymore. After the food we help Eyob's mom wash the dishes and dry them; then we went to play hide and seek in the dark, super smash bro, star wars: battle front, maple story and wrestling in his basement. While all the adults are upstairs watching TV and playing poker cards. Until, it was almost 4 Am, we all got really exhausted and lay down on the sofa, fearing to fall asleep before others because usually the one that falls asleep first often get pranked by the others. So we started chatting planning the trip to Chicago beach tomorrow and Catching up with what we missed.
The next morning, as I slowly open my eyes due to the sunlight, I looked around seeing everyone around me still sleeping, I quietly got up, made sure that I didn't wake anyone up and slowly walked up the stairs so I could brush my teeth. What surprised me was his parents were already awake.
I greeted them; "Hello Good Morning Mr. and Misses Zewdie!" I said.
They looked at me smiling and said "Morning Jerry Chan, is anyone else besides you awake yet?"
I answered "Ha-ha nope, their still asleep we didn't sleep until this morning"
"Ohâ€¦ You guys must have really enjoyed yourselves last night, would you like some scramble eggs?" asked Miss Zewdie I answered "Yes that would be lovely".
Miss Zewdie, then asked me to get some eggs in the garage refrigerator; it took me quite a while to get there, because there were a lot of things on the ground I didn't want to break anything. After I got back with the eggs she took the eggs and cooked them for me. After finish I politely said "thanks" and walked to the bathroom to get a shower. After a good 15 min hot shower, I walked out feeling fresh. I hear a lot of noise down the basement so I went down, only to see people started to do pranks on each other drawing on each other's face with markers. I laughed as I watched them while I sat aside hopping I wouldn't be dragged into this. A little later my phone ringed, my mom called me to tell me that she was outside to pick me up for royal buffet, I hugged everyone good bye and left happily.
After college started, we started parting away because we chose different majors. He decided to go into the medical field, while I on the other side was influenced by my dad and chose to major in accounting. My father has always been my role model. He immigrated to this great country when he was thirteen. Even though he didn't know much English at first, he studied very hard. Before long, he started to compete in the Chicago math competitions, and he was number one in all twelve math competitions. Because of his commitment and determination, he was able to finish high school at the top of his class in just three years. He majored in accounting and went on to become the CFO of a major corporation. He is retired now, and he spends most of his time on volunteer work, where he is always ready to lend a helping hand. The qualities I admire the most in my father are his integrity, work ethic, and willingness to help others. Because of his influence, I became interested in accounting and decided to major in it. The more I learn about accounting, the more I like it because it's the language of business and my strong background in math is very helpful too. I became even more interested in accounting after my participation in the stock-marketing competition in my economics class, which utilized much of what I learned in my accounting class. It really opened up my eyes to the financial world and convinced me that accounting was the right choice for me. After my ACT test score came back, I started applying for universities. I applied to four schools in total. In the end all accepted me, but I chose NIU, not only because I had some friends coming here, but also because they had one of the top accounting programs in the nation.
Nerveless, The two names that I have are like my two hands. Both are separate from each other but together they have created the person I am, and make me stronger. The two different names that I have lead to two separate lives. In both China and America I have created long lasting memories. The friends that I have made in both countries I keep close to my heart. The language and skills I have learnt I will keep in my head. All in all, I believe I was blessed to have had two names and to experience the lives that accompanied with each name.