Interviewer: Welcome to Inside Law, today we’re speaking to two clients of immigration attorney Vaughan de Kirby, they are Zhang Cheng-Bo and Sun Jia-Lu. Thank you for joining us, can you please tell us a little about yourself, where were you born?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: I was born in Heilongjiang, China, it’s a northeast part of China,
Sun Jia-Lu: Me too. We are high school classmates.
Interviewer: And how long did you spend in China?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: I came here when I was 22.
Sun Jia-Lu: And I came here like three years ago.
Interviewer: Now Zhang I understand that you studied in university in the United States, can you tell us about your experience?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Yeah, I came here in September 2007, and I went to a language school to study English, because for us, if you want to get into the college, you need a test called the TOEFL test, it’s testing your English if you can understand what the teacher is talking about in school, so I started this test in the Bay Area, and then I took the test, I passed the test, and I got into the California Maritime Academy, that’s where I met Mr. Vaughan de Kirby’s son Wes de Kirby. He as my friend in school and he lived two doors away from me, so we became very good friends. So I learned about Mr. Vaughan de Kirby from Wes, and I didn’t finish, I studied there for two years and then I transferred, because I already finished my undergraduate in China, so I transferred to finish my graduate degree in Freemont, California.
Interviewer: Now was it difficult for you to come to the United States and study, being so far away from your family in China?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Well the study part is not hard, but since you are here, studying is not the only thing, and you need to live, and when I first just got here, I didn’t know anybody, I had no friends at all, and I couldn’t speak. People talked to me, I didn’t understand. That was the hard part, it’s not the studying part.
Interviewer: Well why did you originally want to come to the U.S. to study?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Well at the beginning I wanted to go out and see the differences between China and America, because we saw a lot of Hollywood movies, and you heard a lot about America and China being so different, so I just wanted to come here and take a look, like why is it so different?
Interviewer: And Sun Jia-Lu when you came to the United States, when did you come here and what was your experience?
Sun Jia-Lu: Well I didn’t go to any university in the United States, but I had my bachelor’s in the communication university of China, which was in Beijing, and I finished my master’s degree in Hong Kong, and after which I went back to Beijing to work for several years and there is a chance for me to afford, it’s a trip in the States, and I met him again, we were high school sweethearts, then we decided to get married. That was three years ago.
Interviewer: Well that’s wonderful. How would you describe your experience living in the United States?
Sun Jia-Lu: Living in the States is kind of a family thing, you cook, do some gardening, landscaping, and he repairs, not the roof but the house, and it’s great fun. It’s peace, wonderful.
Interviewer: And now you have a son, just almost a year old, what are your hopes for your child?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: It’s kind of far away from me right now, right now I just hope, well before he was born, I thought, ok, you know, I want him to go to a good school, Harvard like me, be like a lawyer or a doctor, but right before he was born I didn’t think any of these, I just wanted him to be healthy.
Interviewer: What will you tell parents who are thinking of sending their kids to the United States to study? What advice would you give them, or what would you tell them about living here?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: I would say don’t come here when they are too young because the culture is so different from China. Obviously here you have more freedom, but usually, like just me coming here, no parents, I think if you are too young, say you are like 12, 10, how can you be, you know you can’t control yourself for like everything, maybe you will make mistakes, but if you are older, like 20, 23, 24, you know what’s going on, who is right, who is wrong.
Sun Jia-Lu: I have a different opinion which is on the other hand, they can have their kids come to the States very early, then they get to learn the American culture, everything they grow up with, the American kids, they just get a totally different educational way from China, because in China what we learn every day in school is examinations, how you can get higher scores in examinations. But I’ve never been to a university in the United States but I’ve done some research about the American schools, and they are very good at improving the kids skills in all kinds of area, they try to promote their, improve their abilities, talent.
Interviewer: So you’d like something different for your child?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Yes.
Sun Jia-Lu: Yes.
Interviewer: When did you decide, when did you make that big decision that you wanted to stay, live in the United States?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Well after I graduated, and you know, when the first time when you came here maybe you didn’t like here, and maybe you think my home town is way better than here, we have this, we have that, there is nothing here, no friends, no parents, but once you get used to it, after 5-6 years, you kind of know why here is like this, why it’s different from your home, and you can pick which way is better for you in the future, and I picked here.
Interviewer: How easy was it to communicate with Vaughan de Kirby, at that time when you were going through the process of immigration, with the differences in time and distance?
Sun Jia-Lu: Very easy.
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Easy, because all of the staff, all his employees that I have spoken to speak they all speak Chinese.
Sun Jia-Lu: And English.
Zhang Cheng-Bo: So if like say my mom she has some questions, she can just call the office and somebody will translate for her. He not just help me on this immigration thing, and if in my life I have questions, legal or not, I also call him, and he gives me advice.
Interviewer: Now Zhang Cheng-Bo, your parents don’t speak English, how was that interaction with Vaughan as you were going through the process?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Well my mom and my mother in law, they came here once in San Francisco, in San Francisco we went to his office, and then he was on a business trip in China, and he also came to Beijing and met, and there was Willy was there, he translate.
Sun Jia-Lu: And we were there, we can also translate a little bit. And whenever our parents have any questions, they will just ask. They can either call us to call Mr. de Kirby’s office, or they can just call Willy.
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Sometimes he sets up conference call, three-way talking, so we can all be online.
Interviewer: Now when you think about the whole experience of coming here, applying to get your green card, and working with Vaughan, can you describe that experience, and how easy was it?
Zhang Cheng-Bo: Well before it was like, I can’t imagine, it should be like super hard, because I know they have like all different kinds of documents, paperwork, so I would never go through all of them by myself, its like a mission impossible, but when I worked with Mr., de Kirby, it was easy, I just tell him what I want, what my situation is, and my parents, and he will take care of the rest.