First couple of years after arriving from Taiwan were very difficult
Alicia Chiu left a difficult relationship in Taiwan five years ago and came to Aspen to find a better life for her son. But there were times when she almost gave up.Chiu: My son is a very sweet boy. We have been through a lot, especially in the United States. When we got here we didn’t speak any English. So every time we would try to do his homework, 10 minutes of homework for someone else would take us four or five hours. And we still didn’t get it because many of the words weren’t on my electronic translator. That was very difficult.My son learned most of his English from cartoons on TV. He would learn the words and then he would teach me. That’s how we started to learn. He was the one who helped me stay in this country. One day after work, I was taking the bus home and he rode his bicycle to the bus stop to walk me home. He had a big smile and he said, “Welcome home, Mom.” He was only 8 years old then, but that day he made me strong. I saw that day how happy he was here. So I told myself, “Alicia, you have got to do it for him. He is so happy here. He can do anything he wants here. He is safe. He can play outside, ride his bike and go hiking. It is perfect for him. So why are you deciding to quit?”Gallacher: You were ready to leave then? Chiu: Yes, I was working for a restaurant in Aspen, and I broke my wrist. I had no money to go to the doctor, but I had to pay the bill. I had to pay rent and support my son. My wrist really hurt, but I still kept working.In my country I was a successful designer, so this new life was a big change for me. So I started questioning myself, “Is it really worth it to stay in this country and do easy work and work so hard?” I was working so many hours, and I wasn’t able to see my son that much. I almost quit. I started thinking about leaving. And that day when I was really deciding to go home that was the day my son came to the bus stop to welcome me home. There he was on his bicycle, smiling. He was like sunshine to me.That’s when I knew I hadn’t made the wrong decision. I told myself “Alicia, everything is going to be worth it. Everything you do is going to be seen in your son. You will know some day.” After that I never doubted my decision again. But before that I struggled. I lived near the Airport Business Center in Aspen. I had three jobs a day. I had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and I would finish work at 12:30 at night. I was trying to make money and save money to give my son a good life. Besides work there was nothing. Gallacher: So you would work all day and into the night?Chiu: Yes, I would work my two jobs during the day and then at four in the afternoon I would catch the bus downvalley to my other restaurant job. When I finished at the restaurant, I would go pick up my son at the baby sitter and then we would take the bus home. It was usually after midnight when we got home.Every night, after I got my son to sleep I would walk out of my house toward the airport and watch the airplanes come and go because I really wanted to go home at that moment before my son’s smile. I really wanted to go home. I really missed my country.I remember the first couple of years as just tears, a lot of tears.
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