Voices of the Valley: Meet Sting Chou
From: Taiwan, Current City: River Falls
Fifteen years ago, my family came to River Falls, Wisconsin in January to experience living in the U.S. It was -4 degrees fahrenheit when we walked out of the Minneapolis airport. Compared with Taipei, Taiwan, it was around 68 degrees. It was freezing, especially for people coming from Taiwan. But, my sons loved to study at River Falls, Rocky Branch Elementary School. No matter how cold it was, they played in the playground every day. Kids enjoyed snow! The teachers were so nice to my kids even if they couldn’t speak any English. The community was so friendly and provided a lot of support to my family during our 5 month visit.
A couple years passed, and the kids grew up. They were middle school students in Taiwan. They always studied from 7:30am-5:00pm, 5 days a week and went to cram school until 10:00pm. Cram school is a private tiny academy where parents have to pay extra money to send kids to study again and again. And guess what, kids go to cram school on the weekend as well. At that time, we seriously considered immigrating to America.
Because we don’t have relatives who live in America, family immigration was not an option. It was hard for us to get a working VISA as well.
Finally, we found out there was a green card lottery which did not have much restriction. There were 2 conditions for registration in the Green card lottery:
1.) You need to be born in Taiwan
2.) You need to have a high school diploma or higher
It was good news for us. We could try it! The bad thing was the low selected percentage. Over 10 million people register online every year. But only 55,000 green cards are available for each year. It’s around a 0.1% selection rate.
We did 3 things to increase our selection chances. First we registered every year. Second, my wife and I registered separately. Last one was the most important. We read “Secret,” a book about imagining what you want in your life. After we read “Secret,” we started using the method in the book. We imagined the environment where we wanted to live. We imagined a lot of snow on trees in winter. Heavy snow on the roof and street as well. And we downloaded the green card picture online and put our faces on it to help us imagine.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in June 2021, I was working from home in the afternoon. I wanted to take a quick nap. I reminded my wife we had not checked the DV2022 (aka Green Card lottery) results yet. The result had been announced since May. When I had almost fallen asleep, my wife said, “I don’t understand what it means! It’s weird! The result looks different from last year.” To be honest, at that moment, I just wanted to sleep. A few minutes later, I realized maybe something was different this year. I totally woke up. After Sting Chou 周士琛 From: Taiwan Current City: River Falls 51 checking the registration website very, very carefully…Wow! We had been selected! We could move to America to pursue our American dream. We went to a nice buffet restaurant to celebrate. We were so excited!
In 2022, there were over 110,000 people selected. An average winner requires 2 green cards. In total that would consume 220,000 green cards for all winners. But only 55,000 green cards are available each year. The VISA interview is arranged by serial number, and our serial number was located two-thirds of the way through the total winners. It was simple math. The winners in front of us needed 140,000 green cards. Oh no! It seemed like we needed a miracle, otherwise we would have to wait for the next chance. We felt so sad about it!
But in May 2022, we received an email informing us our VISA interview was arranged in July. Two weeks later, we got passport mail back after the interview. When we saw the VISA on it, we were so excited. It’s hard to explain the feeling. It was real!! And then, we celebrated again!
After over 10 years registering for the green card lottery, we turned over a new leaf by moving to River Falls, WI in October 2022. We believed the reason we got our green cards was because we read the book “Secret.” If you wish for something different, why not read it!
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