We Are Proud

Kang phoned us excitedly that he had signed the paper to buy an apartment near Central Park in Manhattan. Shyi-Dong and I were happy but not surprised because Kang had been checking a few apartments. Obviously, this one is the best.

Kang has been working on Wall Street since he graduated from Harvard. As a foreigner working in the States, life is definitely very challenging. I remember the first year after he was hired at a well-known investment bank, he was overwhelmed with the work assigned to him. It was the first time I felt that he had difficulty managing his life because he was never intimidated by anything assigned to him.

Kang is our first child. Like his ranking in the family, he is always the first in almost everything he does. We never worried about him because we knew he could do very well. However, when he told us how difficult his assignment was when he started his Wall Street job, we knew it must be something too challenging for him. However, there was not much we could do except comforting him to take it easy. We knew it was useless to tell anyone who was in big trouble not to worry. However, we noticed that slowly but steadily he got on his feet at his work. While the world economic crisis bombed Wall Street, many of his friends lost their jobs. Amazingly, he not only survived but thrived. I remember one day he sent an email to us and said proudly: “I am glad that I am on the frontline fighting with the collapsing economy. There are very few people who could have this experience, and I am one of the few who will be able to tell my grandchildren what happened…”

Like most mothers, I always feel my children are the best. Kang was born in Taiwan while Shyi Dong was studying in the United States at Cornell University, so he didn’t see his father until he was eight months old. When Shyi-Dong finally saw his son, Kang showed many tricks other babies couldn’t do which surprised Shyi Dong. He thought his son was a genius.

Since we were the only Taiwanese family living in the small college town of Geneva, we didn’t have too many friends after we moved in. However, it didn’t take long before people noticed we had a cute baby boy. Kang’s big deep dimples and bright smiles quickly stole people’s heart. Most of them became our good friends and looked after our family while we lived there for four years. Kang was our little diplomat when he was a baby. He has been playing this role ever since then. We have gotten to know many people through Kang. Even the Mayor, Mr. Jason Hu used to joke that he got to know Shyi Dong and me because of Kang.

When he was in primary school he noticed that it was very challenging for me to run a school with an English immersion program. People just couldn’t believe it could work out. Kang tried to help me convince the parents by showing them how well he could use English. He attended numerous competitions and he always brought the winning trophy home. One of the toughest competitions he attended was the National English Speech Contest held by Ministry of Education which required an impromptu speech. He won the first prize. It was the first time his high school, one of the best in Taiwan, ever got such an honor. His portrait had been hanging in the entrance of the school for over 10 years.

On top of the competitions he also represented Taiwan as a student by attending international activities. One of the highlights was that he and his brother, Charlie were selected to be one of the 18 students to have an hour-long meeting with ex-President Clinton when he visited Taiwan. It was a great honor for our family.

Kang’s efforts in helping me promote Cornel did indeed work. Over those years, parents kept telling me that they sent their kids to Cornel just because they hoped that one day they could be like Kang.

Kang is also a great helper in our family. When we need a good photographer, he is there. Believe it or not, he once was offered a photographer’s job by National Geographic. When we need an interior designer, he is there. Once when he and I shopped for furniture, the sales lady even asked me whether Kang was hired as our interior decorator. When we need an entertainer for guests, he is there. His talent in playing keyboard as Orchestra or rock-roll band
has brought great fun to all the visitors. When we need to get a car, a TV, a computer, a stove or even a toilet, he is there. He is very keen in the latest products in the market so he always has good suggestions. He even can buy clothes for me as long as I tell him what I needed. One piece of my dancewear which people complimented a lot was bought by him when he did his internship in Tokyo. He found the best one for me just through a few phone calls I made. Kang is a boy who can do anything for our family and he always does a terrific job. His versatility also helped him get lots of attention from people. Once he was spotted by headhunters at a subway station in Tokyo asking him to make TV commercials. He was also invited to perform with a Taiwanese super pop-song star as her dance partner.

Today is Kang’s birthday. Shyi-Dong and I offered a gift of helping with the down payment for his apartment, but he turned us down. He told us to keep it for ourselves or keep it for Charlie since he wants to start his own business. Yes, Kang is a very nice and thoughtful son to us, and he is a very loving and caring brother to Charlie.

I didn’t prepare any other gift for Kang, so I wrote down some of his stories. I want to tell kang: We are blessed to have you. We are proud of being your parents.

Bih-Hua Chen
October 15, 2010