By Chinami Tajika
Northwest Asian Weekly
For our Fourth of July issue, we want to look beyond the fireworks and picnics to offer a more poignant look at the thoughts and worries that international students and immigrants have about life in America. Though many are looking at an uncertain future, their time in the United States is tinged with good memories.
|Ayaka Kubota is Japanese. She came to the United States 10 months ago to study business and English. Many of her friends back home in Japan are facing difficulties in their job searches. “Many of them are thinking about what they want to do,” said Kubota. “[But] they don’t have confidence in themselves and don’t know how to use their strong points.”
Kubota is in the same boat. She needs to find a job when she goes back to Japan in two months. “I don’t know what my dream job is,” she said. “[But] I’ve gained various perspectives about myself since I came [to the United States].”
|Lam Wai Cheong is a Chinese IT consultant who owns his own business. “It was so hard to start the business in the U.S. at first.” However, he got the hang of it. He is currently managing his job successfully.
“I didn’t know about the culture and what people need at all,” he said, speaking about the first difficulties he encountered. “I’ve learned them. After all, I think I got more opportunities than I could have had in Hong Kong. There was much discrimination against the age [of a person], background, and so on.” He has three children that he raised in the U.S., which he is happy about, though there is a downside. “I want them to take care of themselves. The U.S. government doesn’t care for people as much as other countries do.”
|Samuel Santoso came from Indonesia to complete two years of college in the United States. He originally planned to transfer to another U.S. university to study engineering. However, he changed his mind and decided to transfer to a university in Taiwan.
“University in the U.S. is so expensive,” said Santoso. “I may not be able to pay for it. Besides that, I want to learn Mandarin, too, so I might as well go to Taiwan.”
Outside of the classroom, Santoso enjoys American life. He will spend the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. “I’m expecting a lot of fun to be had there.”
|Druscilla Dsilva came to the United States from India in 2007. She was laid off from her job a while ago. She didn’t stay down for long though. “I’m studying at a college in order to improve my skills. I want to get a job here [in the United States], which is easier to do than in India.”
She said she isn’t planning to go back to India. “People here are so much friendlier,” she said. “I like the food here. And everything is large compared to India — everything. India is too tiny to live in.”
|Gyeonghyeon Kim is from Korea and has been studying in the United States for three months. He said it is necessary to have good command of the English language for Koreans to get work in major companies at home. “I’m enjoying my life here though,” said Kim. “Business here is less stressful than in Korea. It’s probably easier to get a job in the U.S. if you major in engineering or information technology.
However, it’s harder for people who major in business or law, like me …
“Even one of my friends, who has gotten a pretty excellent TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) score, hasn’t gotten a job yet in Korea.”
Kim said individuals need to have wonderful grades, the proper personality, and a good appearance in order to find a career in Korea.
|Nate Nozaki, a Japanese American, had trouble finding a job. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do [at first],” said Nozaki. “And I felt I didn’t have enough experience after graduating from college. Almost all of my friends … gave up their ideal somehow.”
Recently, Nozaki got an office job that he is satisfied with, though it’s not his dream job. ♦
Chinami Tajika can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.