My First Taste of Freedom

In January 1989, I came to the United States to pursue my graduate study. Like thousands of Chinese students, coming to America was not merely a chance for academic advancement. It was a way to seek a better future in this “land of opportunity” and “country of freedom.”

Today, these phrases sound more like clichés. But for those of us who had not known the meanings of words like “opportunity” or “freedom,” America was a place for the impossible, a romantic version of what the world was not, and a fantasy land with the glittering skyline of New York City, wild cowboys in California, and humming boatmen on the Mississippi River. For me, America was a dream coming true.

Shortly after I arrived, I went on a school-organized field trip to Washington DC for a conference. The world was still in the grip of the Cold War. Continue reading