Readers! I’m going to take a walk back and share with you how I met the first 10 people of the Another Door Opens project. I’ll begin with the most recent and work my way back to the first.
Where is Home?
Anita Ong and I took Mandarin Chinese language classes together. At 6:30pm on Tuesday nights, we’d meet in a nondescript tiny classroom in Chicago’s Chinatown. Usually I’d speed from work through southbound traffic, past many Chinese restaurants and beyond commercial glass doors to a class that consisted of one teacher and two students: Anita and me. Our mutual friend, Z.J. Tong, founder of the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, had placed us in this class together, a chance for small-group adult language learning. Although we learned a bit about each other through our structured Mandarin dialogue, I knew only small pieces about Anita’s background.
Schedules and geography changed, and our class disbanded. More than one year later, while having lunch with Z.J. at Chi Cafe, one of my favorite spots in Chinatown, he told me about Anita’s citizenship and how until that time, she’d been stateless. With Z.J.’s encouragement, I reached out to Anita by email, and we met for lunch about a week later at the very same restaurant. We talked about the possibility of doing an interview so Anita could share her unique situation in the form of an Another Door Opens story.
She told me after some thought that she would do it. She told me she does at least one thing each year that requires extra courage on her part, something that scares her a little or a lot, and that puts her outside her comfort zone. And so we met again. And she shared her story. Congratulations, Anita! And thank you.