"Only two people on the continent could know my secret"  | Qian Julie Wang

"Only two people on the continent could know my secret" | Qian Julie Wang

Growing up undocumented | Episode 41

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

When she was 7, Qian Julie Wang – just Qian Wang then – landed at JFK airport in New York City. Her airsick mother leaned on her for support. Her father, whom she hadn't seen in two years, had skimped on food to afford the cab driving them from the airport. Thus started her life as an undocumented child in America. In Beautiful Country, and in our conversation on the Borderline podcast, she shares the fear, the hunger and the love of books that got her through these years.

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Show notes
00:00 Intro
02:32 "A privilege, power and responsibility to share my secret"
06:13 "What it means to be a writer"
07:56 "At bottom we're all not really that different"
09:49 "The before and after of my childhood and my life"
13:10 "We had to be everything for each other"
15:22 "It was my job to keep us from being noticed"
17:44 "Salvation and refuge in books"
18:39 "Split between the two worlds"
20:48 Membership ad
22:19 "Public school in Chinatown"
27:49 "I went to school hungry every day"
31:18 "Everything I thought was wrong with me was simply a part of being human"
34:10 "There's nothing we are afraid of now"
39:01 Outro

📚 Beautiful Country, by Qian Julie Wang. 2021. Penguin Random House. Buy it here.

📸 Ryan Muir


Isabelle Roughol

Journalist. Founder & host of Borderline. Former international editor of LinkedIn, foreign editor at Le Figaro, reporter at The Cambodia Daily. Global soul, messy accent.



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