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Mei Yu Huang: “In China there are no elections…[don’t] take voting for granted.”

June 19, 2019

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Mei Yu Huang first came to the United States from Taishan,
China, on the coast of the South China Sea. This conversation was translated by
Allen Wong.

Mei Yu Huang became a US Citizen 17 years ago.  (Photo: Lilli Dang)

I came to the United States 22 years ago from Taishan, in
Guangdong province. I came looking for a better life. I have three children. My
second daughter sponsored my husband and me and we lived with my daughter for
our first eight years in Chicago, in a three-bedroom house. It wasn’t easy. I
could not speak any English, and it was very difficult to get around. I found
work here as a tailor, and today I am retired.

My three grandchildren were born here. They are citizens,
but they are too young to vote.  When
they are older, I will tell them that in China there are no elections. They
shouldn’t take voting for granted. I wanted to become a citizen so that I would
be able to vote. I wanted to vote for the president, for the governor and for
the mayor. I want to be prepared, and to help choose good ones.

Mei Yu Huang (far right) enjoys English classes at the Chinese Mutual Aid Association of Chicago. (Photo: Lilli Dang)

I became a citizen 17 years ago. I studied for the
citizenship test with the help of the Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA)
where I learned some American history and I learned about living in the United
States. Learning the language was the hardest part. I studied very hard. I
listened to English language tapes for 8 months, staying up every night until
midnight to study. I took the test in English and I passed it. I am still
taking ESL classes. The CMAA teachers are very good.

As I told my cousin, don’t be nervous, don’t be
afraid, join the citizenship classes, and become a citizen. My cousin said if
it had not been for me pushing him, he might not be a citizen today. When I was
sworn in as a U.S. citizen, I was very nervous, but I was also excited and
happy. The first time I voted I went with my husband to the Truman College in
Chicago with the CMAA students for early voting. The United States has given me
freedom. As a citizen now, I feel a responsibility to make sure we have a good