Global Morgan: Aerie Yang Reflects

Student Shares Experiences Emigrating From China

Muntara Singh, Chief Editor, Writer

Aerie with her parents in Chengdu, China

Junior Aerie Yang has spent much of her life in limbo. From China to New York to Connecticut, she has lived on opposite sides of the globe. Born in the countryside in the south of China, she lived with her grandmother while her parents worked in the nearby city of Chengdu. When she was three years old, she moved to Chengdu to live with her mother after her father had moved to the United States. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Chengdu is known for its rivers and ingenious irrigation systems; the city in particular is famous for its rich cuisines. 

Aerie shares that it is common in the Chinese countryside for fathers to work in the cities until they can support their families to move in with them. In her case, her father got approved to live in America, so she didn’t get the chance to see him for very long. Soon after, her mother was approved too. Unfortunately, Aerie wasn’t, so her mother made the difficult decision to travel to America and leave her daughter behind. Aerie spent the next six years of her life living in Chengdu with her grandmother. 

Aerie with her parents in Liverpool, NY

When she turned nine, she was finally approved to live in America. Her mother flew all the way home to pick her up, and they returned to their new home in Liverpool, New York. Aerie entered the third grade with virtually no exposure to the English language. “I was overwhelmed,” she reflects. “I was just alone.” There were no other Asian kids at her school, and it was frustrating for the entirety of her communication to be relegated to Google Translate for months. In comparison, her Chinese friends at schools in New York City had an easier transition because they had Chinese friends with whom they could speak and relate. 

After seven years in Liverpool, Aerie moved to Jamesville to attend the best high school in the Syracuse area. She was thriving there, making friends and studying well. As a result, she was disappointed when her parents suddenly decided to move to Clinton, Connecticut. They were eager to establish a nail salon business, although Aerie felt like her life was upended. She wasn’t given a choice, nor much time to prepare. “I’m still trying to get it,” she says. “But I don’t, not really.”

Aerie has only been a Morgan student for a few months, so she is still new, but she likes it here. Her Chinese and American cultures have impacted her in different ways. She loves her father’s traditional dishes, only enjoying Chinese food from him because he used to be a chef. The main holiday she celebrates is Chinese New Year, and she believes it is crucial to understand Chinese culture. 

Aerie (second from right) as a student panelist during Morgan’s Human Rights Day Celebration

Aerie doesn’t consider herself “Chinese American” because she only speaks Chinese at home. Her parents want her to keep her Chinese culture, so they remind her often to remember her heritage and her home. “I feel some American, though,” she adds. “I have more freedom and privacy here.” She appreciates the respect children receive from their parents here in America, and she thinks her parents are less strict now than they were before. 

“You have to understand that multicultural kids experience very difficult times,” Aerie explains. “I just get through what I can, and that’s it.”