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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Rosales

Boston Globe: All That My Mother Wanted Was To See Me Graduate

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Published for The Boston Globe Magazine March 29 2020 Issue

Ruoyan Chen with her mother, Xuejian Zhao, on a trip to Japan in January 2019.

> Ruoyan Chen, an Emerson College international student whose Beijing-based mother will miss her graduation

As told to Melissa Rosales

“During the four years of my college, all my mom said was, “Oh, I will go with you during your commencement, I will be there,” and it’s just not happening. We had the news confirmed that the US Embassy [in Beijing] won’t open for visa appointments until May 18, which is after graduation. I couldn’t believe it.

I feel sorry for my mom because she has been working really hard to have time to be able to leave her work to come here. She’s a nurse in a public hospital. She works Monday through Friday and a half day during weekends.

My mom has always been the one who’s supported me in school. She would always go to parent-teacher meetings and graduations. When I decided to study abroad, she tried to persuade my dad and my other family members to agree. It was important for my mom to come here and see how much I learned and grew up here.

I was at my internship when I texted her the article [about the visa appointments]. She said, “Sorry. It’s my fault that I didn’t do it earlier. So I can’t go.” I said, “It’s OK, Mom. You can ask Dad when he has more time, and then after the coronavirus, you all can come together.” I didn’t say much. Not until eight days later, I called her.

I was in my bed. She was struggling with using the camera facing her, and walking around our home to find a better signal. I cried, but I didn’t want my mom to know.

I pointed my phone toward the wall so she wouldn’t be able to see my face.”

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