A New Chapter

Immigrants are unfortunately labeled for being foreign rather than for the adversities they faced to get here.


Danny Lin admires the landmark of a historical president in the Yunnan Province of Southern China. In the summer of 2017, Lin revisited some familiar places from his vibrant childhood.

Vincent Lin, Staff Writer

The people we pass by on the street are generally strangers; strangers that we normally do not think twice about. Usually, we cannot even remember the face of one from just a few days ago, but regardless, all strangers have histories.  

When almost fifteen percent of the US population consists of immigrants, you are bound to come across someone with tales from another world. 

As the United States grew to become a superpower, it became known as the country of dreams. It was an international attraction of aspiration and opportunity. For Danny Lin and his family, this was worth risking their lives for. Now, as a middle-aged Chinese immigrant, Lin reminisces back on the harsh transition from one society to another. 

As a child and a teenager, Lin lived in a small Chinese village, saying that it was a fairly poor farming community in the countryside; however, family was more important than money there. 

Even still, life in rural China was insufficient to provide for comfortable living conditions. Lin’s family eventually decided on taking the treacherous trip into the States as low-income farmers in 1993, loosely inspired by the California Gold Rush in the US. 

“People in China say that you need sunglasses walking on the streets here because there’s gold everywhere; saying it will hurt your eyes because it’s so shiny,” Lin said. “It was a funny story then, but it still tempted us.” 

Though the stories seemed too good to be true, the temptation of a better life was too great. So, with the help of his father taking the lead, Lin and his family immigrated into the States. 

Despite living a simple life in China, Lin was leaving a lot behind, saying that he “had lots of family and friends there, and that’s probably what [he] missed the most.” 

Furthermore, starting anew in a foreign country is difficult, regardless of where it is. As an Asian in the bowels of Brooklyn, New York, Lin found it difficult to settle in. With discrimination, loneliness, and simply being a stranger to everyone, living in a bustling city was a scary, and sometimes dangerous, experience.  

“My cousin had a restaurant, and outside, he had to have bulletproof glass and barred windows because people would bring guns all the time,” Lin said. “At night, when you’re closing up, you have to look first because you could get robbed at any time.” 

Regardless, resilience was the key, and with this attitude, Lin began to appreciate the little things in life. Even with the surrounding risks, his days still felt like an improvement from the small village he grew up in. 

“When I came here, I was working at the restaurant two days a week, making around $200 a month,” Lin said. “I was really happy because that was the first time that I was making money in my entire life.” 

After acclimating to the environment here, buying his own necessities and starting his own family as a United States citizen, he began to appreciate the difficult decision he made decades ago. 

“We have a better life now,” Lin said. “If we stayed in China, then life would be the same as it was: eat, work, maybe chat a little bit, and then wake up the next morning and start again.” 

Settling down in the ‘Land the Opportunity’ felt like a milestone to him. Every aspect of life felt like an upgrade. Yet, straying away from his birthplace had built up irreversible consequences. 

“When I go back to China, it doesn’t feel like home anymore, and I feel like a stranger,” Lin said. “I don’t know people anymore, [and] they don’t know me. You might get a familiar face, but you’re a foreigner.” 

Losing a part of your history is not an easy thing to cope with. Being left with nothing but vestiges and remnants of your past life is like losing part of your identity. Having to go through such an immense lifestyle shift does not bode well with that either. None of this, however, stopped Lin from pursuing his future. 

“You can’t compare [materialistic] things like having a big house in China to living in a tiny bunkbed here just to make you sad,” Lin said. “Whatever it is, whatever you have, you just have to deal with it. If you want a better life, then work harder for it.” 

Lin says he’s proud of the life he has built for himself and his current family. The resilient mentality and grit that led him to success are nothing short of extraordinary. And yet, this is just one incredible story of an immigrant-one out of an endless archive of people. 

Having migrated to this country, though, they all begin with one thing in common: a new chapter in their lives.