My twin sister, Lu, and I were thirteen years old when we left behind everybody we loved and everything we owned in Beijing, China. At 4 AM one cold November morning, we were awakened by my father, my mother, and the Mother Superior from the French School, “Sacre Coeur,” which we attended. We were each handed a small suitcase with some clothing, but no money or any identity documents. When the small plane took us away, I could see my parents and Mother Superior standing on the ground, waving goodbye to us. I can see that image just as clearly today as I did then.
We were sent to Nanking and then on to southern Taiwan to live with my sister Amy. The next three years were so traumatic and so sad, that I cannot remember the place we lived in, the bed I slept on, or what I ate. I do remember that we were given private lessons in English, French and Chinese. It was tough and we missed our friends from the French School. Our parents had gone into hiding and none of us knew where they were.
When I was sixteen, I read in the daily paper that the French Embassy was looking for a French speaking social secretary. It was on a Thursday that I rode the train from Kaoshiung to Taipei. I took a pedicab and went to the Embassy. The Ambassador hired me and told me I would be picked up by a chauffeur on Monday to start work. He would be paying me in U.S dollars. It was so much money that I was totally speechless. I was going to be FILTHY RICH! After I left the Embassy, I realized that I had no place to live and almost no money. Once again I bought a newspaper and saw an advertisement that read, “Mrs. Wong, wife of a member of the Legislative Yuan, is looking for an English teacher for six hours a week and will provide room and board.” I took a pedicab to her house to see if I could land that job too. She hired me and I moved in that night. How lucky I was! My life has been a series of fortunate occurrences that always seemed to pop up when I needed them most.