From China to Virginia

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

I am blessed as I have many friends. I do not take this lightly. I treasure friends and work hard at being a good one in return. I have a new one about whom I shall write. I never had a Chinese friend before, but I’ve got one now.

As is my habit. I don’t use last names. So to you her name is Yuen (honestly!) It’s pronounced as we’d say &uot;wan.&uot; She’s led an interesting life. She was born Hong Kong. As I wrote many articles ago, I visited Hong Kong. What a place! It’s a shopper’s delight and I hated to leave. Under British rule it was a place of mystery, intrigue and bargains by the millions.

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Yuen was a little girl there when her parents decided to move to the Untied States as her grandparents were living there – actually in Newport News. See the surprises I’m always giving you? Newport News! Well!

Came the family to our country to join grandparents and landed first in New York. I have lived many years in New York and always expect first-time visitors to marvel and rave at this fabulous city. To Yuen it was just tall buildings. Then to a bus to Newport News. No one spoke English except grandparents.

School was important so Yuen was enrolled in school and in desperation learned English. It has been established that foreign children learn a language quickly as they play with children and go to school with them. Throw away all those tapes and records. Mingling with kids does the best job.

Got to mention one thing – this family from China came into Virginia with one thing going for them – they were faithful churchgoers – nothing less than Methodists. A real fit-in. Nothing spectacular marked them as through school the kids went and Yuen is now in college. These Chinese wasted no time. No failures, but no eye openers either.

One day she was in a drug store and a man in a white coat made an impression on her. No romantic stuff, believe it or not she decided to be a pharmacist. Guess the white coat got her .So she went to pharmacy school – met and married a man in her class. It wasn’t to be – they divorced. He later became a doctor. She stuck with pharmacy.

Next move to Kansas (Who goes to Kansas?). Completed her studies, married again, had a son. Worked for a time and the white coat came in. Borrowed $30,000 – opened her own drug store. Beware of white coats!

She is most successful, owns properties and is in charge of my medication and even delivers it to me. I call her friend and she is my one and only Chinese friend. I’m open to any other Chinese friends if they are like her.

Florence Arena is a resident of Hillcrest Retirement Center and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.