Alice Lui

Transcript of Alice Liu
Interviewee: Alice Liu
Interviewer: Christina Xiques
Date: January 30, 2014
Place: Chicago, IL
Transcriber: Christina Xiques
Total Time: 21:09

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

CX: This is Christina Xiques on January 30th 2014, interviewing Alice Liu. She comes from Thailand. So Alice, can you tell me a little bit about your childhood?

AL: About my childhood?

CX: Yes, like ….

AL: Um

CX: About your earlier years?

AL: I do have with…, ah five of us, brother sisters and siblings, I’m the youngest in the family. So at that time I… parents pretty much you know busy working just to support the family, so they working. We just grow up as little child. We playing, going to school. Besides that then yeah so um… weekend we just pretty much play with the neighbor and do some stuff. But we rarely get the chance to have a trip somewhere else because I think…because of the family situation. But since my parents are too busy working. So we pretty much just played in the neighborhood running around riding the bicycle, yeah and doing the jump rope and stuff yes.

CX: Okay. So do you remember a specific memory like a fun or a happy memory about your childhood?


AL: A fun or happy memory… oh there’s a some kind of exciting challenging in… yeah during the childhood that um we used to. Because we live in a building above building ah that there is a roof top that um so the building is like next to each other, it’s still a little bit different than the buildings here in the US in like Asia. So we used to jump from one block to another block that for the neighbor house because it’s together. Sometimes there will be a gap between this block and another block.

CX: Um hm…

AL: So we used to jump over the gap back and forth it’s kind of scary that if we happen to fall….

CX: Right

AL: And miss that it’s going to be very injury start in the small gap in the alley… So that’s one thing, and we come back and forth on the balcony which is up on the fourth floor balcony

CX: Um hm.

AL: And that’s ah no have fence or anything. And when the neighbor look at us, they were so scared. They would come to tell our parents, “You child jumping. Oh my. It looks so scary because they may fall anytime.” So that’s one of the things.

CX: Nice, okay, and you said you were from Thailand right?


AL: Yes

CX: Did you live in a city or village?

AL: In the city, I was born in Bangkok and grow up in Bangkok.

CX: Umm okay.

AL: Yes.

CX: Nice, you were born in Bangkok.

AL: Yes.

CX: You were born in Bangkok, that’s where you were born?

AL: Yes and my family still live in Bangkok now.

CX: Oh, Okay. Um so you told me you have five siblings.

AL: Yes.

CX: Sisters, brothers?

AL: Yeah I have three brothers and one sister.

CX: Okay, so you’re all together five?

AL: All together five.

CX: Okay and you’re the youngest right?

AL: Yeah.

CX: Okay. And, could you tell me a little bit about how it was like in your country, like what was your life like?

AL: Okay. Well kind of it’s in the south east Asia, the country so which is kind of tropical area so it’s the weather kind of warm all year long pretty much, like the winter time, it during December, which it’s pretty much the coldest there it’s about I would say 70 degree. Yeah.

CX: Wow.


AL: It’s seventy to almost one hundred in the summer, so that’s the year long….We pretty much don’t, one year we might get to wear sweater just one or two days the most, just a light sweater, not even a thick jacket, but that, but that’s in Bangkok in the city. But of course somewhere up north in like in the mountains it will be colder so if people live up north so that will be colder

CX: Um hm.

AL: So that’s about a weather and then for the food it’s a lot of people know Thai food it’s kind of very variety and it has of the taste kind of you know has a mix of everything each dishes are different in terms of the preparation and the use of lots of ingredients and herbs so it’s yeah.

CX: Is it because it’s a diverse community? Is that why?

AL: It’s….

CX: The dishes, does it represent the community or….?

AL: No, it’s not in diverse community. Ah well. Thailand has, I would say, that there is the real Thai people, there’s a Chinese immigrant, so I am actually considered a Chinese immigrant.

CX: Um hm.

AL: For, because my great grandparents they move from China to Thailand so in consider have Chinese Thai. So, um, and the real Thai people also they live there for a long as well, but Thai people, the real, real Thai people in general they will eat more spicy than us.

CX: Umm.

AL: Yeah, but of course when we grew up we adjust adapt to eat, I like spicy food but my parents couldn’t take spicy as much so in terms of the food we eat home we prepare a mix of the Chinese and Thai. Yeah for us, it’s become a good for me to grow up and learn how this different cultures get to….

CX: Right, right, interesting.

AL: Yeah.

CX: Can we go back to your childhood; did you feel like you had a happy childhood, a nurturing loving childhood?


AL: Yeah, yeah I have a happy childhood yeah growing up with siblings and you know we fight and (chuckles) so we love each other and pretty much it’s enjoyable that also we don’t have… I look at my kids now they are …. I have time to have the attention to the education, and I have time to pay attention and try to make them study harder.

CX: Yeah.

AL: But my time my parents never paid attention so after school we come home we watch TV, we finish our homework, we just go run around doing playing pretty much like that

CX: Right.

AL: Everyday where we don’t have any after school ever to do music we have to play sport or anything no so we are free to do anything just finish

CX: Right. So you notice the difference between the time when you were raised and now your children?

AL: Yes, it’s totally different.

CX: Right, okay, so could you tell me what made you decide to leave your homeland to come to America?

AL: Oh yeah, well I finish my undergraduate in Thailand. After I finish I worked there for three years. But before I finish the college I already plan that I would like to come to the U.S. to continue my master degree in business administration, which that time…. Well my major was accounting, from my bachelor degree. And then I would like to work in a financial institution to be an investment banker or stuff like…. Because that time in Thailand it’s kind of popular too.

CX: Um hm.

AL: And I kind of have interest in this field, accounting and finance - a kind of number things.

CX: Um hm.

AL: So, and US is one of the country that of course, a lot of people all over the world wants to come, it’s just, you know, opportunities land, and in terms of education it’s one of the best in the world. So that’s why yeah I decide to come.

CX: Your main reason was to come for your education?

AL: Yeah.

CX: For your masters right?

AL: Yes

CX: Okay, was it difficult getting here?

AL: Was it difficult? It’s not that difficult; just to get into the school, to apply and to have the school to accept me. It’s a thing that of course there’s a standard that they look at in terms of the test scores at each college they’ll accept and

CX: Um hm.

AL: Actually I applied to only one school and I got accepted and yeah so, well but I probably maybe know that I have a chance for this school in the university that I went. I have a friend that my colleague that used to work with me. She came here first and she came to that college to study. So I kept in touch with her before I came and know about the school and about everything about it.

CX: The process.

AL: Hm, the process.

CX: Okay so she kind of helped you in the process.

AL: Yeah yes yes.

CX: Okay, and do you enjoy it here in America?


AL: Do I enjoy it…Yeah. Yeah in general, yeah.

CX: Okay.

AL: Other than sometimes I’m missing the family because I came here by myself and I’m the only one here actually.

CX: Okay.

AL: During, of course when I was in school, it’s fine. Okay you study hard. You play hard. You really have fun as a college student, but after having kids it’s a totally different life. It’s change, totally different.

CX: Right.

AL: I will have more responsibility and as a mother you have to you know try to do the best.

CX: Right, right, right. And what has been the biggest change for you since you had been in America? What do you feel was the biggest change?

AL: The biggest change…hmm. I think myself, myself is the biggest change. I…

CX: Could you tell me more about that?

AL: Well, I was kind of a child, kids I think of my siblings also, we are considered quiet kids. We all know ourselves that we very kind like to speak or argue with any people kind of even to defend ourselves sometimes we had to, you know, walk away and not….

CX: Confront?

AL: Not confront with anything and never said no, whenever we try to do something just to please people

CX: Umm hm.

AL: And when I came here the thing that I learned through the American culture that you have to stand for yourself.

CX: Um hm.

AL: So something that you think you don’t want to do that or you don’t like it or you just have to speak it out not just keep it quiet.

CX: Um hm.

AL: So that thing that I think….

CX: Was the biggest change?

AL: Um hm. For me?

CX: That’s interesting, that’s interesting. And okay so when did you move to Edgewater?

AL: In 19…no 2001.

CX: 2001?

AL: Um hm.

CX: Okay. And why did you choose Edgewater?

AL: Oh, before we move here we live what is that Up town and…Irving Park…I don’t know, you know.

CX: I don’t know, I’m new here too so I’m not really familiarized with this area.

AL: Lincoln Park.

CX: Lincoln Park, okay.

AL: Yeah, okay so I lived there for two years. Okay that time we went and…. Yeah we had an apartment and after we have a child and we want a bigger place. And, so well, maybe two reason we want to move up here is first that the terms of the housing in this area at that time we could afford.

CX: Okay.

AL: The thing we could afford it’s a little bit farther from downtown, so and another thing we want to live by the lake, that’s one thing that my husband really think that Chicago is a city by the lake so….

CX: Um hm.

AL: It is the place that we want to be here, in (unclear) a lot of access we can use, so. We just look around on Sheridan North couple buildings and okay, we like this building the most.

CX: Okay, nice, okay. And, so, do you feel at home here in Edgewater?


AL: Yeah, yeah it’s very convenient in terms of transportation and the grocery store but normally just close down, everything, yeah, so you just want to go downtown and you just, you know….

CX: But what is it what is it makes you feel like home here like? What are examples of how, because you said it feels like home here in Edgewater, correct?

AL: Um hm.

CX: Do you have any examples like what makes you feel like this is home here?

AL: Well, the building at first, I’ll tell you about the building itself, we feel like it’s a very good community here. The people who live here have…. It’s variety. Everyone is nice and it’s really a very family together and throughout of here there are activities for those holidays and stuff.

CX: Um hm.

AL: For this neighborhood is that there like park, a play park for the children. It’s just one block north and one block south, play park. Summer times you want to go to the beach and so it, yeah, it’s a very nice and it’s just….

CX: Okay, okay…umm what is your favorite experience here in Edgewater?

AL: The favorite experience here …

CX: Or like a good experience you had in Edgewater?

AL: Umm…let me see. I can’t remember….

CX: You have to think about it right?

AL: Experience in a…(unintelligible)

CX: Like one of the happiest experiences or one of the nice experiences that happened in Edgewater, maybe when you first moved here or …I don’t know in the community, with the people….

AL: Hmm. It is the park. Yeah one of the thing, the place. That was it. Since I have children I thought maybe that children like to play parks so I been taking them since they were little, in the stroller.

CX: Ah, okay.

AL: Just to play in the swing and stuff. And now they bigger they go their biking or with the scooter. They still going there so that is…. It’s a good experience in that way.

CX: Umm.

AL: Yeah.

CX: Okay, did you have any….? Did you face any problems here in Edgewater?

AL: Do we face any problem? No so far nothing really. So, it’s very good. Just well not talking about Edgewater but the weather is sad because you know its kind of windy.

CX: Um hm.

AL: By the lake…winter time .

CX: Um hm. That would be all Chicago right

AL: Yeah, look out it’s real windy out there.

CX: Um hm.

AL: That’s all yeah…I think.

CX: Okay, so the weather.


AL: Yeah, I’m not use to, you know, winter weather here is…. You know I have been living here almost twenty years but….

CX: Mmm.

AL: I was born in the tropical country and stuff so it’s a little bit hard to adjust to, to the weather.

CX: Um hm, I understand that because I’m from Florida so I know the feeling yeah, um

Ah, how did people in Edgewater treat you in general?

AL: Very good (unclear) so far we meet very nice people here and we smile to each other. You know say hi to each other, so….

CX: Friendly?

AL: Yeah very friendly yes.

CX: Okay. Are you part of any of or involved in any like neighborhood organizations or any Edgewater organizations?

AL: Umm. No actually not.

CX: Okay… and how do you get along with other people like in your work, school or any gatherings?

AL: Oh, how to we get….?

CX: How do you feel like how good do you get along with them, good?


AL: Yeah, yeah. We like the floor that we live now, like each floor about ten unit. We have a good floor. There is another unit that they are also an immigrant from India, a couple from India that they move into the building about the same time that we move in so….

CX: Mm.

AL: Uh, they have also kids so we been kind of a friend. We been friends since we move in and it’s very close. We are very close like extended family you know.

CX: Okay.

AL: So whatever we need, help or whatever we can just reach out to them. The same if they need help, they will come to us. The kids will be running around in the hallway back and forth between the units, and we feel really safe that, yeah that we don’t have to worry about it.

CX: Umm okay.

AL: There is also another unit that a couple that they are nice both of them also. They are nice couple that also when we, our kids’ birthday party or New Year’s Eve almost every year we will get together and celebrate. Some of like Chinese New Year that party and stuff. Yeah all kind of stuff, whatever gathering we will get together yeah and we all….

CX: That’s nice, so you feel a sense of family.

AL: It is.

CX: Okay, that’s good. What culture do you identify with? Do you feel like you’re American now? Or do you feel you like….Do you identify with yourself as an American or as being from Thailand or maybe both?


AL; Yeah you can say it’s kind of like mix. That’s why I said because I still try to keep my Thai culture in terms of to teach the kids okay. You need to respect a grown up because when we grew up we were taught to respect grownups. So you don’t want to, when you call a grown up, you know you have to say of uncle here or auntie there so we put a name. We don’t call them by name, so we will call sometime okay, mother here, or you know give them a title that we respect a person. So that’s one thing I try to keep it and teach my children to do that. But with the American culture, yeah we also go along with, in terms of want to be independence, want them to hear think make decision. Whatever we want to do, we try to kind of have a meeting and give them, ask them, to make a decision together. Not like well in Thailand, maybe. We never get to make a decision. It’s up to my parents to decide what they want to do, where they want to go things like that.

CX: Um hm. So you try to take the best from both cultures.

AL: Yeah.

CX: Would you say?


AL: Yes.

CX: Okay. So knowing what you know about America now, would you still have moved to America?

AL: Yes, yes.

CX: Yeah.

AL: I would still move here I think. I never regret to move here.

CX: Okay that’s great. Okay, if you had to choose any where else in the world, where would it be?

AL: To live or to visit?

CX: To live.

AL: To live?

CX: Yeah.

AL: That’s kind of hard, not really a hard question but it depends on the time. Okay, the time of the year is another thing. And in terms of the age. Let’s say if now right, I still have children going to school. So that’s why we still think that we want children to grow up in the U.S. and have U.S. education. So we decide to live here until they go to college. When we retire we plan to maybe winter time we go to live in Thailand because it’s not too cold.

CX: Okay I see.

AL: Maybe we living six months there, six months here (unclear).

CX: Okay I see.

AL: Yeah traveling better for.

CX: Okay, it makes sense yeah.

AL: Yeah.

CX: Okay, so I think we are done. I enjoyed hearing your story and thank you for sharing with us it was very interesting.

AL: Thank you, my pleasure.