Dreams of Shanghai

What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.

The high-rise steel buildings and skyscrapers were replaced with vast greenery and blue, cloudy skies. The familiar symphony of sirens, honking, and indistinct chatter was suddenly replaced with oppressive silence. People I had known for my whole life were suddenly an ocean and plane ride away. Moving from the fast-paced city of Shanghai to a far less glamorous city in Texas was quite a shock.

Our old apartment in Shanghai seemed like a prison cell in comparison to the mansion of a house we had moved to in Texas. However, the vast hallways and big rooms confined me more than the tiny, two-bedroom apartment ever could. Living in Shanghai, my whole world was within walking distance. The preschool I attended was a block away, the supermarket my grandfather loved to take me to was only a bus ride away. But in Texas, no one was walking on the sidewalks, everyone drove a car and everything was miles and miles away.

Growing up, it seemed as if I was always sticking out from the crowd like a sore thumb. Not only was I one of the only Asian kids at my school, but I was the only Chinese kid. The kids who rode my bus would tease me endlessly for the way that I looked and talked. The teachers at school struggled to pronounce my name and...

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