From The Peopling of New York City

Jump to: navigation, search
The LOVE of my life: Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong
The LOVE of my life: Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

Where I Came From

I was born in the beautiful city of HONG KONG (Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong) with its famous nightlife and neon lights, and its busy daylife and crowds. Like me, my mom is a city girl who can never survive in the countryside. She was also born and grew up in Hong Kong, where life was perfect.

My great-grandma married young, and by the age of 18, she gave birth to my grandma in Mainland China. Since my grandma is the oldest of all of her siblings, she went to Hong Kong to find work at a young age--in order to earn money for her family. There, she eventually got married to my grandpa, a Hong Kong native, and brought her mother there to live with her new family. My grandma gave birth to my mom, aunt, and uncle soon after. All together, this was the family that I grew up with and love with all my the perfect city of Hong Kong.

My father was born in Mainland China in a little farm. He is the oldest of the five children that my grandma had. Like my mom's mother, my dad was forced to find work in Hong Kong at the mere age of 13! There, he lived with his abusive aunt and uncle. During his free time, however, he would often find sanctuary in a nearby temple. That was how my parents first met--through the head nun of this little temple, who is my mom's aunt.

I am not close to my dad's family because they lived in Mainland China (the dreaded countryside), and later on moved to the U.S. In fact, I disliked them because of the way they treated my dad even after all that he had done for them (such as bringing home money and helping to send his siblings to school) while he worked long hours as a teenager, alone in a strange city. Before I cam to the U.S., I had the perfect family, with my loving relatives from my mom's side, in a perfect city--I had the perfect life.

Who I Am


My name is Elaine Li and I plan to become a surgeon in the future. I am currently a biology major following the pre-med track in CCNY. I fell in love with the idea of being a surgeon when I had my first dissection lab in 9th grade. I love studying the anatomy of both animals and humans, and I especially like cutting things (yeah, I know this may sound weird...) open to gain both hands-on experience and more knowledge on the creature's anatomy. Besides biology, I love learning foreign languages, especially French. I have taken three years of French in high school, and I really like the sound of its language and its culture.

Outside of school, I love to play sports. I know that I may not look like it, but I am actually quite an athlete. I like many, many sports, especially tennis (I am currently on the CCNY Women Tennis Team), biking, and handball. I also love shopping and hanging out with friends in my free time.

One reading that I enjoyed from the class is Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Tales of New York by Stephen Crane. It was actually the first fiction reading we had after numerous history-book readings, and it was better than I expected. It described life in the New York slums in the late 1800s, and provided vivid mental images of the tenements, its tenants, and their horrible lives there. I thought it was interesting because it gave a specific "case-study" of all that I have learned in those history books, and it gave me a deeper insight into the lives of the New York City poor in the past.

New York and I

Belt Parkway: Brooklyn, NY
Belt Parkway: Brooklyn, NY

My family moved to New York City in September 2000. It was my dad's decision--he wanted my brother and I to have a "better" education. When I first came here, I really didn't know much. I was lonely because my mom's relatives were not here, and I was stuck with my dad's side of the family. I also didn't really know English well, and I felt like I had left my perfect life behind forever.

I currently live in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I attended elementary, junior high, and high school (Brooklyn Tech) in this borough, but am now continuing my education in Manhattan (CCNY). Of course, the journey to a good high school and college was not easy. I first had to face the challenge of mastering my English, I then had to get over my homesickness. At times, I really feel like I am losing touch with my culture and language since I have become so Americanized (that's the downside of being too well assimilated, I guess).

I still consider Hong Kong my real home even though I am getting comfortable with my life in New York City. I like my friends and our hangout places in this city; I especially like biking and walking on Belt Parkway. I love feeling the cool ocean breeze and sunshine on my face while moving through the wind. Still, Hong Kong remains my FAVORITE place on the whole wide world, and it will always be where home is...where I truly, truly belong.