From the Author
In 1953 when I was sixteen years old, I came to America from Korea on a boat and started my journey in Flushing, NY. From Flushing I went to Story Brook, LI, then to Austin, Texas, and to Columbus, Ohio, Andover, MA, , Boston, MA, Binghamton, NY, and finally to San Jose, CA, to study, teach and work. During the first three summers, I worked at Lakeside Bible Conference in New York and Camp Pocono in Pennsylvania. After retiring in 2002, I decided to share my experiences with others. Since then, I have published:
My Truest Hope, my born-again experience walking through a major depression, published by Guideposts Magazine, August, 2012.
Blossoms and Bayonets, a fictionalized story of my brother, Hi-Seung, during WWII under Japan, co-authored with Jana McBurney-Lin,Redwood Publishing, 2012.
Shattered by the Wars, a story of my family during WWII under Japan and during the
Korean War, Inspiring Voices, 2013, and the second edition published by Christine F Anderson Publishing, 2015
Where Are the Money Trees? is an account of my journey through America. I wrote this story to share my life’s experiences, feelings and thoughts, not as a factual historical memoir but as a means to express what I thought and felt about America as a series of stories around factual events. I felt that stories based on my thoughts and feelings during those years were more meaningful to readers than simply sharing my thoughts and feelings.
Professor David C. Chai, my son, in the school of art and design at San Jose State University made a 10 min. animation movie, A Knock on My Door, that chronicles the life of his father. It won the GOLD MEDAL in the contest sponsored by NY Society of Illustrators55 in 2013.
To see the film, cntrl+lick or google https://vimeo.com/110365553\
An excerpt from each chapter
On the deck of the Sea Serpent approaching San Francisco Bay, February 20, 1953
In a few hours, I will be stepping on the land of infinite possibilities. The land where I will realize my childhood dream – of becoming a great inventor and make my mother and country proud.
Visit with a friend from a wealthy family in Korea, working as a maintenance person for a rich family in LA while studying at UCLA. February 22, 1953
“Don’t you feel ashamed working as a servant?”
“It’s the beauty of America,” Jong-Jin’s eyes brightened. “Here in America, there is no working class; there’s no upper class like we have in Korea. If a person is willing to work hard to attain his dream, he can make it. Here in America, anybody can become a millionaire. Anybody can become a professor. Anybody can become the president of the country. But he has to work for it. That’s what I like about America.”
First day – Shelton Junior High School in New York. March, 1953.
What? Girls in my class? I gasped. Has my sister gone crazy sending me to a school where I will be studying with girls? When I was a child, Mother reminded me always to play with boys — never with girls. She also said that if I played with girls, my voice would become soprano and my male organ would shrivel to nothing… What should I do if a girl winks at me and wants to talk with me?
I work as a maintenance boy at Camp Lakeside, NY, Summer, 1953
Bang the gong three times a day. Bang, bang and bang. Clean the dining hall three times a day. Wash the dishes for one hundred people three times a day. Take garbage to the dump once a day. Clean the boys’ and girls’ restrooms once a day. Then I will be using the pick and shovel to do whatever that needs to be done… When will I have time to play with campers and learn the American ways?…Anyway, do my best and show them that I can do anything that American boys do. And I will do it better… I have worked like a dog, and they don’t pay me – even a penny.
Alone in my dorm during the Christmas vacation – Stony Brook School, 1953-55
How do I describe loneliness? I feel it in my body. I feel it in my heart. I feel I am alone in the dark on a vast desert keeping company with the twinkling stars above… I can’t describe its hue. I can’t measure its hardness. Is it an emptiness in the heart? Then what is emptiness? Is it a separation from people? But monks seem to be content in a temple on a desolate mountain. Is it a want of friendship? But some feel loneliness in the midst of friends. I don’t know. I don’t know. I only know that it is here with me, devoid of shape, color and weight.
First bus ride downtown- Austin, Texas, 1955-60
What’s going on here? All the blacks sitting in the back and all the whites in the front! I’m not black. I’m not white.Where do I sit?
First Sunday at a church: What’s going on? How come nobody’s coming to sit on my pew? The front pews are full. The back pews are full. But no one on my pew except me.
I fall in love with an American girl and ask her parents for permission – Columbus, Ohio, 1960-62
“I want to marry your daughter,” I said. After seconds of silence, I heard a high-pitched voice. Her mother’s voice. “Marry my daughter?” She screamed. “Leave my daughter alone, and go back to your country. ” I looked straight at her and said, “This country needs me!”
I receive a Ph.D. and become an authority in my field, but I feel that I am a failure for not becoming a household name. – San Jose, California, 1980
A major depression strikes me. I plan to kill myself, but the eternal Hell fire scares me from crossing the bridge. I go to a therapist for help. Half a year into the therapy, I experience the inner peace and freedom that I have never thought possible to experience in this world.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a person like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see. These peace and freedom are still with me to this day, 2016.
Note: If you are interested in reading the whole story, please contact me clicking CONTACT ME button on my website.