Thursday, April 17, 2014

Money and Love

      Nanhai, my hometown, is famous for car smuggling in China. In the 1980s, China was developing into a golden age and a lot of rich people wanted to pay high dollars for an imported car. Taking marginal geographical advantages, smuggling cars became a profitable industry. Thousands of laborers were involved in the illegal business. My uncle, an aspiring man,  became one of them in his early twenties, and his business created big changes in our family. During my children, our backyard was a mystical garage.  My uncle often parked several brand-new cars from the black market there. My grandmother used to air-dry the quilts around the cars carefully. So no outsiders could notice the cars. The backyard was an inglorious secret of our family.  In fact, his car smuggling business had a significant effort on my family and our lives.

     My uncle’s business brought his parents a happier life for his success of business. The development of smuggling business resulted in the prosperity of the local economy, and the local government eased its control. In 1998, my uncle successfully expanded his business to northern China. He eventually moved to Tianjin to build up his business, so he seldom came home. The occasions we met were merely the Spring Festival and the Mid- Autumn Festival. I never heard my grandparents complaining about their busy son. However, they were proud of their son who brought them a carefree life, because my grandparents had suffered from the misery during the Cultural Revolution. Both of them devoted their lives to raising their four children, so they deserved a better life in their twilight years. That motivated my uncle to work hard for his parents.

 Not only my grandparents, but also my mother and my siblings were the beneficiaries of the smuggling business. In the same year, my mother divorced with my father. Despite misery, we were facing a dilemma. After leaving the original villa, we needed a new place to live. My mother failed to buy a secondhand house with her poor salary. Therefore my mother, my little brother and I were homeless at that time. Nevertheless, our hero showed up. My uncle bought us a new house. Although my uncle had a good income then, buying a house made him taken a big amount money of his saving. He never complained the “trouble” we made and was willing to support us all the time. Nothing could express our gratitude to my generous uncle.  He treated me like his dear daughter and taught me a lot of life lessons. I did love my prestigious uncle. The illegal game brought us a safe house.

My uncle’s business also brought other rewards. Even though his business was illegal, he also helped the community. He donated money to the primary school and local charity every year.  Due to my uncle was a smart and honorable businessman, most of the resident spoke highly of him, no matter whether they knew his secret or not. A lot of parents introduced their daughters to him for marriage. Finally, he married a kindergarten teacher who bore him four girls. The rewards of his illegal game also made his four children have the opportunity to get good education in Macau. His whole families lived a happy life.

Fire can’t be wrapped up in paper. In 2007, there was an anti-smuggling campaign that swept across China. My uncle paid a huge price for the lose of his game. He got arrested and was sent to jail. However, he never showed depressed in front of his family. In prison, he kept reading every day. He never gave up improving himself. That is how he taught me to be a strong and positive person facing any dilemma. I never saw my uncle after he went to jail, and my family has nothing to do with the illegal business any longer. The whole family buried this secret forever, yet there is one thing I can’t deny. My uncle’s laundered money had brought a lot of joy to others. His charity remains in the minds of all those who he helped.



Monday, March 31, 2014

MY life My struggle

My Life My Struggle
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a country of 170 million people and full of natural resources. It has gained independence in 1947 after the war with India. Pakistan and India fought in order to have separate home land for Muslims and Hindus. However Pakistan has had many problems after independence such as place for refugees and high rate illiteracy. In addition, as Pakistan is an Islamic country, girls don’t have as much freedom as boys have in their life in every field. Therefore, many girls face all kinds of issues and hardships in life. Many dreams they had in their childhood, can’t be fulfilled. It leaves negative effect on their lives. I grew up in Pakistan, so I had to face all those problems which every Pakistani girl is facing now.  The issues I had to face when I was in Pakistan are the poor infrastructure, economic instability and radical Islam.

            The infrastructure of Pakistan was well established after independence but gradually started to decline. One effect of this situation is that when I was growing up in my own city, Quetta, we usually did not have electricity for five hours a day. Sometimes, in small villages they didn’t have light for eight to nine hours a day. This affected my education because I had to do my studies during the day time. I also had to iron my clothes and clean entire house hold work when there was electricity. I was always in hurry and in tension. In the summer it was so difficult, because the weather was very hot and there was no light, so my father bought a generator so that we could study properly and do our work. Moreover, since the whole area didn’t have light at night, so there was chance of robbery. My home main door was always locked. My family and I had to be very vigilant that nobody would jump in the house. Therefore, my parents never left me alone at night if we did not have light. Moreover we had little water so bathing was another problem. We could only get water for two hours daily, so we had to make underground tank to reserve water.

             Another and more serious effect of the political unrest is daily bomb blasts. There are terrorist groups in the northern side of the country that are destroying the country’s economy and having negative impact on new generation. Most of this due to is due to infighting between Muslim they are fighting in Pakistan the Shia and Suni. These bomb blasts makes everyone in afraid. As soon as person finishes their work, they go home. Markets, parks, mosques and even hospitals are not safe for people. When we were living in Pakistan I hardly went anywhere except school and to my relative’s home. I always thought I would die on a bomb blast but we had to carry on with our lives
                Besides these, the most dreadful situation is against modernization. Some Muslim do not value baby girl. If a baby girl was born in the family, so the head of the family used to kill or burry that baby girl alive. These days the dreadful situation going in Pakistan is, a group of people throw acid on girls face those who were not in parad (hijab) or were not dressed in traditional Islamic way. When I used to go with my family, I always used to keep the cars window closed. Whenever I used to go shopping with my mother, I used to cover my face and hands because I feel safe and protected. Acid throwing assault has being mainly carried out against woman and are usually motivated by revenge in Pakistan. Even though Pakistan is an Islamic country and girls should have almost equal rights, still this isn’t true. In fact,Non Muslims are also suffering a lot because of radical Islam rules.

             Muslims and non-Muslims should have equal rights, but because of radical Islam everyone is suffering. Even though many Muslim themselves are all tired from all day incident of killing and bomb blast. The poor infrastructure and religious fanaticism eventually led us to leave Pakistan. It was not easy for my family to leave Pakistan but my parents sacrificed everything for my siblings and me so that we could have better future.  It’s my new life and new start coming to the United States. I really miss my country. When I came here, I knew I would have more opportunities and I can learn something from America and I could bring forth my hidden talents. I want to fulfill my father’s wish to become a doctor and to help girls, grow up to lead healthy lives.
Change The Destiny
       In the past thirty years, China has changed a lot because of the economic reform, which ma China move toward the top of the world. In 1978, China made a big reform called Chinese Economic Reform. This reform almost made China became another country. This reform made people became richer and made all the students knew the world at that time, and also made China became stronger and richer. During the time when the economic reform proposed, my mother caught the chance, and changed her life into a totally different faith.

        As what I know about my mum, she always didn’t have enough food to eat. If you weren’t born at that time in China, and you have no idea to know how poor the people were during those years. My mum told me that her family didn’t have enough food to eat. In addition, the food was only given from the government and you even there were no way to buy some food at that time, lots of people died before the Chinese Economic Reform. After the Reform, my mother said that the life was totally changed. The government didn’t limit food to people anymore, and allowed other countries to build the companies and factories in China, which made China became a vigorous country. Those new companies created lots of jobs and people were able to find jobs and opened a company at time and people just became richer after Chinese Economic Reform.
            My mum is a lucky person who has a company now. Because of the Chinese Economic Reform, her destiny changed. In China, people must graduate from a good university if they want a good job. Thanks for the China’s economy that gave the hope to all the Chinese, They could open their stores and built their companies and factories. Fortunately, my mum opened a company with friends at that time, which made my mum’s life became easier, she could earn some money to lead her live more comfortably. Therefore, my mum always told me that Chinese Economic Reform just gave me a chance to change my life too. I can also felt my mum’s feelings. Now, she has worked very hard in her life and still working hard at this moment. People became richer and have chances to get rich because of this reform.
On the other hand, The Chinese Economic Reform not only made people became richer, but also gave people a chance to have better education. Most of the people couldn’t go to school at that time and the schools didn’t teach many subjects to students. What people could learn from school was limited to in Chinese history and math. Thus, a lot of people didn’t know about the world outside China. Many students really wanted to know about the world and learn something differenced, but they didn’t have chances. After this reform, a great replacement has been taken in Chinese economy and education. The government built more and more schools and let the schools to teach wider aspects so people could enlarge their horizon. This has helped Chinese students get in touch with the world. The education policy made Chinese students became smarter and more qualifier.

At this moment, I have good life because of my parents and all my life is coming from my parents. My mum was lived in hard years, but she was never afraid of the destiny and she told me that she never though of gave up. My mum’s experience always reminds me that I should cherish my life now and do more meaningful things. Chinese Economic Reform has had a great achievement and effect on Chinese society, and China added a new face in the world.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


In the 1830’s, China was a not a very strong country, but there were many missionaries coming to China from all parts of the world. Because my grandfather was a businessman, he used to travel around China. Once by chance, my grandfather went to Guangzhou and met a missionary on board a ship. He felt that the missionary was very kind, so my grandfather tried to listen to him and tried to think about what he said. When the evening rolled around, my grandfather talked with the missionary one-on-one. The man spoke about this religion called Christianity, and my grandfather was intrigued. Finally, my grandfather decided to connect to Christianity. When he came back to my hometown, he promoted the gospel to everyone he knew, especially my whole family. For many years, the change of religious beliefs has not only influenced my daily life, but also my future.
First, my grandfather’s belief that has affected my hobbies. As a Christian, it was not easy to live in the world as usual, because there were too many temptations, such as money, friends, and power. However, my grandfather still believed in Christ and has never wavered, so I grew up wanting to be a man like my grandfather. However, the temptations are going to be stronger in my sensation. First, the computer games were very attractive for me. When I was a child, I liked playing computer games very much. As I grew older and became a Christian, I tried to reduce the love for the computer games and even said no. In addition, my friends influenced me a lot. In China, we didn’t have class on Sunday, so my friends often called me to go out for a party or something else, but I used to have church meeting on Sundays. Nevertheless, it was tempting to hang out with my friends at first, but I still chose to attend the church meetings instead.

       The second effect is that I became a Christian. In my opinion, a real Christian is a person who doesn’t go anywhere bad, is kind, and honest. My parents also told me that Christians should try to go to church once a week or more. My grandfather always said he wanted me to become a missionary like the man he met, so I have tried to be a good person. I still remember the first time I went to my friend’s party. I just drank juice and Coke, but my friends wanted me to drink beer. I told them that I was a Christian and I didn’t want to drink beer, because I knew that anything could happen if I got drunk. In addition, I didn’t go to bars, KTV, or anywhere bad. Chinese KTV is not that simple as American Karaoke, because people do more than not sing on the KTV. Such people pay for sex, and sometimes they fight. My friends knew that I am a Christian, so before they invited me, they knew that I would not go with them.
       Moreover, I came to the United States because of the church. There are thousands of Christians and churches around the world, so many people will travel to other churches for meetings, not only in China, people also travel to the United States, Singapore, Canada, and other counties. My uncle went to the United States for a church meeting in 2008, and he was able to visit Chicago. When he came back to China, he talked about he saw, including how the church life in America, and the educational environment. My sister was the first person in my family who came to Chicago. After a few years, she told me that she wanted me to come to America to study. Hence, how I am here too.

       Therefore, my whole life has changed because of my grandfather. My entire family respected my grandfather, not just because he was the oldest, but also because he guided our family. He was the first Christian in my hometown, so it further strengthen his position in our heart. Although my grandfather has died, our whole family is still Christian. We need to thank the missionary who met my grandfather, and the encounter that changed our lives. 

Accompanied Driving

Sebastian Beyer
ESL 100
March 30th, 2014

Accompanied Driving

In 2004, the model experiment accompanied driving at seventeen, was created by the German government because of the high accident rate especially by rookies. At first, it was successfully started just in a few states in Germany, including my hometown, Hamburg. Later in 2010, every state in Germany adopted it. I got mine in 2010, and for me it was a great opportunity to start gaining driving experience at the early age of seventeen. Of course I had to drive under the custody of my mother and my older brother. Getting my drivers license affected my life by changing me into a more flexible and responsible person, so I was able to do almost all the important duties for my family.

To be allowed to participate the program, a teenager has to fulfill some certain requirements; for instance the driving partner must be at least thirty years old or older and passes a valid drivers license longer than at least five years. The terms fit perfectly for my older brother and my mother, so I started classes at the driving school after my 17th birthday. After I finished my written exam and my driving test, I got handed out the accompanied drivers license, so I had four months to go to practice my driving skills with my two driving partners until my 18th birthday. It was such a great feeling to have somebody next to me to answer my questions about traffic situations and show and tell me some hints and possible solutions in the big world of driving. From that moment on, I was able to drive everywhere I wanted and I had the feeling that I got a bigger reputation in my family. Also the impression driving a car is for me the last brick to be completely grown up. I was also the first one in my circle of friends who had a drivers license, so I got the feeling again that I was the most ostentatious guy in the group.

In addition, after I turned eighteen, I was able to drive to the grocery store, bring my little brother to his schoolmates which most of whom were living on the countryside, or pick up my mom or brothers from the local train station by myself. At this point my family was positively affected because nobody had to sit next to me anymore to let me drive. The accompanied driving program was also good for the insurance company, so the bill was very low. Furthermore, I was able to practice my skills a lot, because those routes were short drives way, but each time when I was driving on the highway downtown to my grandma, I was a little bit scared and nervous. I spend many months driving with my oldest brother that way for a long time to practice it, what helped me a lot.

Finally, I felt totally capable after the months of practice of driving downtown on my own to help my grandmother get to her doctor appointments. My mother has to work all day on weekdays and my both older brothers were very busy with the university. This mean they weren't available anymore to drive her that often to her appointments. At that time, grandmother was getting older and almost physical handicapped, so my driving influenced my family such in a positive way that I were able to help out. I enjoyed the time when I was driving my grandmother to doctor appointments because I saw her more often than ever before, which I loved a lot. Besides, I also helped her with grocery shopping and carrying the goodies upstairs to her apartment. She also enjoyed the time I spent with her, and that made me even more proud to have the drivers license.
 The satisfied feeling of being more in charge and supporting my family more than ever before was so great. The additional duties also relieved my two older brothers of car related tasks, and that gave me more confidence. Those two are the reasons why Im so happy that I participated the accompanied driving model experiment because that made me the reliable and safe driver I am today. Im now less afraid and feel more comfortable to drive by myself. My mother and my oldest brother were great supporters in my accompanied driving time. When friends would ask me if they should wait for the drivers license without restrictions or take the accompanied drivers license, I definitely would recommend the accompanied driving model to them because it helped my family a lot.
Shayan Tavanakhatiri
ESL 100
2nd draft
                                                            The Blink of an Eye
            The Islamic Revolution took place in February, 1979 in Iran. Many people were very unhappy with some of the Shah’s policies, such as suppression of his opponents. Iran, however, was in the right direction, and it was going to be a very powerful country in economy, agriculture, sports and science in the near future, but people demanded more political liberty. People thought if the regime changes, they can have more political liberty. The people weren’t sure what kind of regime they were looking for, but one thing was certain; they didn’t want Shah to be in power. The Shah, however, didn’t take them seriously, so the revolution happened. This revolution, which was led by Ayatollah Khomeini, changed everything really fast. The revolution caused isolation of Iran by other countries, the Iran-Iraq war and violation of human rights.

            One of the most important incidents that happened after the revolution was the effort to isolate Iran by western countries, especially the U.S., because of Iran’s foreign policy. The U.S. government and some other countries started to put sanctions on Iran. These sanctions have had a huge effect on Iranians and my family. The sanctions started in 1979, and affected everything from transportation, banking and health to commerce, import, export and various industries. Once, one of my relatives needed medicine for his heart, but it couldn’t be found in Iran due to sanctions. It is dangerous to travel by plane, because most of the aircrafts are old, and due to sanctions, airlines aren’t able to buy new parts to replace with the old ones. On numerous occasions the plane I was on had difficulties for landing. I’m lucky that I haven’t lost my life in a plane crash. Also, I have a lot of issues in airports in other countries while traveling abroad. When I came to Chicago, the officer checked my entire luggage at the airport, and I was stuck there for hours because I have an Iranian passport. This definitely wasn’t the way Persians were treated at foreign airports before the revolution.

            The revolution also led to the Iran-Iraq war, which had a huge negative effect on my family. The war lasted from September 1980 to August 1988. This war was started by Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, who had the support of the Soviet Union and the United States. My parents say that the war had a very negative influence on them. They were always under stress, and there was war atmosphere everywhere. Their schools were sometimes closed, and they weren’t able to get a good education during those years. Moreover, the war affected food supplies. Their families had a hard time getting food and other life supplies. For instance, they had to wait in long lines for hours in order to get milk and eggs. Although currently my family and I have a good life, we could probably have a much better life now if they would have studied, instead of trying to obtain basic life supplies at that time.

            Furthermore, human rights in Iran have constantly been violated since the revolution, and there is not much of freedom now. In the Shah era, the government was secular, and there was democracy. Alcohol was permitted and the hijab was optional. Anyone who wanted to be a Muslim and practice Islam was free to do it, and anyone who didn’t want to be a Muslim was also free to not to be a Muslim. However, it has been a different story after the revolution. All of my class-mates in elementary, middle and high schools were boys, because all the schools in Iran must be single-sex. This issue caused me a lot of problems in my relationships because I have never had a good chance to become more familiar with the opposite sex. As a boy, it has always been difficult for me to get to know girls. Besides, there is no freedom of religion or speech in Iran. I have never had the chance to learn about other religions or to freely oppose the Iranian government’s policies. It has been like this since the revolution happened.

            Today, I wonder if the people who revolted are satisfied, and got what they were looking for. However, I’m pretty sure that if this revolution hadn’t happened, I probably wouldn’t be here in Chicago now and I would be living with my family in Iran. Before the revolution, Iran was a great country with just some minor problems, but now it isn’t a really great country, and it has a lot of problems. As an Iranian, I hope all these problems will eventually be solved and Iran will be a great country, like it was in the past. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Son Preference

      Since ancient times, males have occupied an important position in Chinese history. In contrast, the position of females has been very low. They have always been considered second class citizens. Because the feudal society lasted for over two thousand years in China, the ideology of “son preference” was firmly entrenched in Chinese families, especially in some uncultured countryside regions. Unfortunately, my family was also influenced by the son preference. In fact, this tradition influenced my childhood and early education.

      One effect of this tradition was that I felt very unfamiliar to my parents when I was a little girl. Until the age of six, I lived with my grandparents, and I knew very little about my parents from my grandmother. She told me that my parents would like to give me a younger brother. The most important thing was that our family needed to have a boy to continue the family line. Now I understand the reason why my parents left me. In order to avoid the Family Planning rules, they had to go to a place where nobody knew them to secretly have a baby. Some people may think that it is crazy and stupid behavior to have a son and break the law, but this is reality in modern China. Actually, most Chinese families that would like to have a son all do crazy things like that. When I was six, my parents came back home with a baby boy, and the whole family was very happy even though they paid a lot of money to the government for breaking the Family Planning rules. The first time meeting my parents, I remembered I was very scared of them and hid behind the door. I did not even want to talk to them.

      The other effect of this tradition is on the family line. In China, only sons are allowed to  join in a family tree ceremony and have a celebrative party. There is a rule in Chinese family trees that only men can partake. Women can join in her future husband’s family tree if she gives a birth to a son. It means that women just have one chance to have a position in the family tree, but they need to have a son. Also, the family that has a baby boy would have a big party to celebrate the son’s coming with sweet potato soup and red eggs. At this moment, all the relatives and friends bring gifts and best wishes to him. In the ceremony, the son is dressed in red clothes will have his first hair cut by his grandfather. At the end, the mother will take the son to walk around the ancestral hall. As I am a daughter, I could not join in our family tree, nor do I have these celebrations and ceremonies to honor birthday.

       Despite the economic reforms and opening in China of the past twenty years, the ideology of son preference still influences each family. When many Chinese girls graduate from high school, they stop studying to work to support their family. Many families tell them girls do not need to study too much in the school. They thought that the responsibility of women in a family was just do housework and have a baby. I am so lucky that I could graduate from college in China, even though I am a daughter in my family. My parents have more a modern perspective, so I was able to go to college. Generally speaking, girls who are in the age of twenty-three, will marry some men that were chosen by their parents. However, my parents followed my wish to let me marry someone that I choose in the future. In my daily life, I am still responsible for doing housework and studying, yet my little brother only pays attention to his studies. When I am busy with the housework, I always wish I could be a son in my next life.

       Today, I am in the United States where I find many Chinese families still follow the ideology of son preference. I realize that it is not my parent’s mistake that they wanted to have a son. The two thousand year old ideology of son preference only changes little by little. However, thanks to my family, they supported me to finish my college even though I am a daughter, and now they realize that all Chinese girls should get fair treatment in a family. Both men and women serve important positions in the world, and all family need to recognize this.