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Without a doubt, the individual who has had the most significant influence on me is my father. To explain why, I must start with his childhood in An Hui, China. Born into a large family of farmers, he had to commit most of his time to helping feed the family. There were always more eggs to be collected and more yams to be picked. During the little free time available to him, he did not out and play with the other village children; instead, he studied for schoolwork.
Due to this hard work and motivation for success, he was chosen as the only one in his entire family to go to college.
College was a time when not a lot changed for my dad. He was still working hard and keeping himself in check with tremendous self control. Oh, and, perhaps a little change was that he met and fell in love with my mother. Maybe this did take away a little from the homework time, but in any case, he graduated Chinese college with superb grades, and was offered a scholarship to the University of Illinois.
Presented with chance to go to the fabled “land of opportunity”, he moved to Chicago with my mother. One detail that has stuck with me all these years is that my dad only had $100 bucks in his pocket when he arrived. I’ve always wondered what gave my dad the courage it took live in a foreign country with almost no money nor knowledge of the language.
I think the answer to my question is the concept of desire. He desired to have a better life and to have the means to raise a good family, so he ignored the impossibility of the task and fought with all his might. This is evident through him working a 4 hour shift as a waiter every day after classes to pay the bills. When my mom became pregnant, my dad had to further add a night job to help pay the bill.
Though I was very young at the time, I clearly remember an incident in which we were going to the store, and we barely bumped the car in front of us while parking. The car already had lots of paint missing from the bumper, but the owner insisted that it was our fault and that we give him $50, which was a lot to us at the time, to compensate for it. My father stood his ground, and demanded to wait until the police arrived. When they did, we learned that they were already familiar with this man as a result of him trying to cheat many people out of their money. At that time I was very young, so I asked my dad, “Daddy, why does this man try to earn money by doing bad things?” My father replied that in life, everyone wants to be rich and successful, but some people want to take shortcuts to get there instead of through hard work. I then promised him that I would never become one of those people.
Soon after that incident, my dad received a job offer in Cary, North Carolina. He and my mother talked it over for a long time, and decided that the environment in North Carolina was more suited towards raising a child than Chicago was. So they moved to North Carolina. All I know is, my dad has worked hard his entire life to get where he is now, to give me an opportunity to make something of myself. I want to work hard and become successful when I grow up so that I can help people like him, those in poverty with a strong will to succeed.
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