Story of a fruit of Immigration



My name is QUAN Alice, I am 18 and I live in France. I am currently studying economics at the University Paris-Est Créteil. I love travelling and discovering new countries. I also like learning about the history of the different countries I visit. My origins may have an influence on my personality. When people look at me, they think I am just a Chinese girl. They cannot imagine I am a little bit Mexican too. People are in general very curious and interested in me when they know about my mixed origins. “How could a Chinese man and a Mexican woman meet and get together? It is actually atypical.”

The process of immigration is sometimes more complex than what one might think. I am going to share something personal with you; something I am quite proud of by the way. Even if most people think, when looking at me, that I was born from immigrant parents who left China to come straight to France, I am in reality the fruit of a more complex movement of immigration. I would even say that I am the result of many movements of immigration.

“How did my family end up in France?” That is the question.

My great-grandfather was born in 1880, in Guangzhou in China. In the early 20th century, he decided to go to the United States to find gold. That was the period when in the United States discovering gold was still the only way of making fortune for newcomers. That was also the last wave of the gold rush in the American History. My great-grandfather spent ten years before finding what he had come for. He then decided to explore Mexico. He finally stayed there, got married with a Mexican woman and built his family.

My grandfather was born in Mexico. However, when he turned 8, my great-grandfather sent him to China to study. He lived there until the second Sino-Japanese war which began in 1937. That war was the most important Asian war of the 20th century. My grandfather had therefore to escape it. He went to Hong-Kong where he stayed for few years. Then, he moved to Macau one -along with Hong Kong- of the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China. He met my grandmother there. They did business and owned some shops. Despite everything my grandfather went through, he still wanted changes. He was an adventurer! They left Macau for Indochina, precisely Vietnam. They did not know how to speak Vietnamese. But, they were not afraid of taking risks.

My father was born in 1964 and it was also the year when the United States invaded South Vietnam. Americans invaded the south and

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took possession of the capital: Saigon. Vietnamese claimed their independence and a war began. In April 1975, it was the end of the war and Vietnam became a Communist regime. The government took everything from the people of the South. My family could not stand the situation. In 1978, they decided to leave Vietnam and go to France. They came in boats; they were “boat people”.

After a long journey, they finally arrived in France in 1978, precisely in the city of Créteil near Paris. They first stayed at the “Foyer des Réfugiés France Terre d’Asile”.

Alice QUAN is currently a student at Paris-Est Creteil University in Paris where she studies Economics

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