Human Library: Dan Song
Country of Origin: China
Journey: "I moved here in 2013 as an international student. Before I graduated, there were three schools who were willing to sponsor me to get a H-1B visa. But it was not an easy process. It took many years and much headache, but I made it! After my career became more stable, I found someone and recently got married."
Student journalists Madeline A. and Zoe F. took some time to sit with Ms. Song and learn about her memories of China, her story of citizenship, and more.
Zoe F.: How does the story of your “book” relate to this month’s theme?
Ms. Dan Song: What do you mean?
Madeline A.: We're pretty much writing a book about you.
DS: Too many pages!
MA: So, how does your “book” relate to this month’s theme?
DS: So, I was in China, finished my first Master's Degree, and then I went to Bangkok, Thailand to teach Chinese for one year. It was a tough year, but it was fun. Then I decided to come to the U.S.
MA: So you came in hopes of a new future, or because something was wrong where you were?
DS: I came because I wanted to teach Mandarin and Chinese culture. I came here in 2013 and got a chance to see what this country looked like. Then I saw a lot of people wanted to learn Mandarin. I said, “Hire me, hire me!” But they said no, you don’t have a Visa. So then I was like, "what can I do to make this happen?"
MA: So why did you choose to teach Mandarin in the US and not some other country?
DS: Good question. When I was in Thailand, I I loved my job, I loved my students. But, aside from the work, I did not understand them that well because they speak a different language. So I feel like I was living in an island, just by myself. I couldn't understand, so I could not go deep in conversation. So I chose the US because I majored in English as my Master's degree. I knew how to speak English.
MA: So, did you come to America alone or with friends or family?
DS:When I came here, I was just coming as an international student. I didn't know what would happen, I was just coming here to learn and see the difference between the US and China. And also to teach Mandarin.
ZF: So, what was the hardest part about coming here?
DS: Oh, the language. Some of the slang you say and I need to think between lines and say like, “What is the meaning?” and also to communicate.
ZF: So like the sarcasm too?
DS: Yeah, sometimes I don’t get it.
ZF: What do you miss most about living in China?
DS: I miss food! But I feel like here, people are more independent. You have to do everything on your own.
MA: So how often do you visit China, and do you have any family living there?
DS: I try to visit China once per year, and I try to stay as long as I can.
ZF: Okay. So do you ever think of moving back to China?
DS: (laughs) good question! So I thought about that, but I felt like like teaching Chinese, is like my destiny — what I really want to do. And I do feel like —
ZF: Like you really belong here?
DS: I feel like here, the community — the Chinese/Mandarin teaching community… needs me! And I feel like that's something that I really want to do.
MA: So you feel like you have a purpose here.
DS: Yes. I feel my destiny here!